You have likely heard about the transformative power of big data across all industries. We are harnessing that power to customize oral health care for each patient.
Over time, as we both amass and access data about not just people but entire populations, information about a patient’s genome, microbiome (bacteria in the gut and mouth), and exposome (environmental exposure, such as pollutants) will help us build a much more complete picture of a person’s health and susceptibilities to disease. This will, in turn, improve both outcomes and patient experience.
Such data can be pooled and analyzed to identify populations with common traits, features, and symptoms. This will enable unprecedented research on oral and overall health, and allow for quick and detailed customization of procedures (or the suggestion to avoid them) based on hundreds or thousands of factors, rather than the handful of considerations that inform care today.
We are looking for ways to customize care and to do it with information far beyond what we can see in the mouth. Medicine and dentistry will come together in ways that have not been possible until now.
One of the factors most crucial to the success of the new Center for Precision Dental Medicine is its physical location: in the heart of a medical center.
Columbia University has always thought of dentistry as the oral health specialty of medicine, and founded its dental school on that premise.
This is why our dental students spend their first 18 months taking the same preclinical courses as the medical students at the Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons. In research, our faculty and students collaborate with colleagues across the biomedical sciences and other disciplines. In clinical practice, our students collaborate with social work and nursing students, as well as nutritionists.
We believe that dentistry will be much more tied to medicine in the near future, resulting in better health outcomes. We have always practiced with the understanding that the mouth is a gateway to the body, not a separate entity. As dentistry integrates with other fields, Columbia wants to lead that change.
Integrated Health Records
To further our understanding of total health, the College of Dental Medicine will be among the first academic dental institutions to unify dental and medical patient electronic health records in Epic, which will be shared between all clinicians at Columbia, NewYork-Presbyterian, and Weill Cornell Medicine.
This will offer physicians and dentists, who traditionally work independently of each other, a two-way flow of information to better detect and manage interrelated chronic conditions. Because dentists are often the “first responders” to notice conditions in the mouth related to systemic diseases such as diabetes and certain types of cancer, among others, this opens possibilities for better detection and management of disease throughout the body.
This will also accelerate growing bodies of research that show connections between oral disease and a broad spectrum of other diseases and conditions.
True to the Columbia Mission
Rapid advances in data sciences will unleash tremendous new possibilities to understand and prevent disease for society.
At the Center for Precision Dental Medicine, we draw on Columbia’s strengths in data science and precision medicine to provide the most advanced oral healthcare to our patients at reduced costs. And through research made possible by the Center, we work to improve oral health and wellness for broader populations, including in our Upper Manhattan home.
We are deeply committed to serving our community and are proud to add this new facility to our patient care offerings.