How Dentists and Speech Pathologists Can Work Together

Dentists and Speech Pathologists may seem like an unlikely pairing at first, but when these health professionals collaborate, they can deliver better outcomes for their clients. Here at Speak and Swallow, our team of passionate Speech Pathologists have delivered training to local Dentists and collaborated with them to improve the quality of life of their clients.

If you’re curious to know more about why Dentists and Speech Pathologists may collaborate to deliver exceptional care, and how these different professions can work together, keep on reading. 

Why Dentists and Speech Pathologists Work Together

It is well known that collaborative, multi-disciplinary approaches to healthcare enable professionals to deliver better outcomes for their clients overall. Through the sharing of discipline-specific knowledge, assessment results, and observations, health professionals can collaborate to confirm diagnoses and create a holistic intervention plan to support clients to reach their goals and achieve optimal health outcomes. 

Dentists and Speech Pathologists may have different areas of clinical knowledge and focus when seeing clients, but there is some overlap in the way these disciplines look for changes or abnormalities in oral health and oral musculature. Sometimes what Dentists notice in the chair can be a signal that something deeper is going on, and that further assessment from a Speech Pathologist would be beneficial. The sooner that risk factors are noted and referrals are made, the sooner clients can access the care they need. 

Speech Pathologists and Dentists may collaborate with a wider team of health professionals including:

  • ENTs
  • Respiratory Physicians
  • General Practitioners
  • Myofunctional Therapists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Osteopaths

How Dentists and Speech Pathologists Can Work Together

There are a number of ways that Dentists and Speech Pathologists can collaborate to deliver effective and timely client care. One of the main ways this occurs is when Dentists identify when a client would be suitable to refer on for support from a Speech Pathologist. 

Some of the reasons a Dentist may refer a client to a Speech Pathologist can include:

  • Clients reporting avoidance of foods
  • Clients reporting fatigue during meals
  • Clients reporting difficulty biting food
  • Residue in mouth post-swallow
  • Food stuck in cheek pockets
  • Food stuck in roof of mouth
  • Excessive tongue movements
  • Clients reporting sensation of food getting stuck
  • Clients reporting needing to swallow multiple times
  • Muscle compensations
  • Weak cough
  • Coughing or choking throughout dental exam
  • Wet gurgly voice
  • Shortness of breath (unrelated to a condition)
  • Clients reporting regular chest infections
  • Choking
  • Drooling
  • Reported or visual discomfort when eating or drinking
  • Clients reporting regurgitation of food or drinks

Some conditions that Dentists work with that can be a cause for Speech Pathology intervention include:

  • Peridontal disease
  • Reflux
  • Xerostomia
  • Bruxism
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
  • Mouth breathing
  • Orofacial myofunctional disorders

If you have any concerns about your own or a loved one’s oral health and have been recommended Speech Pathology services by your Dentist, there are many options available to support you. 

One of the best ways to find a local Speech Pathologist who can provide assistance after a referral from a Dentist is to visit the Speech Pathology Australia website. There, you’ll be able to enter your postcode and find local Speech Pathologists to organize an initial appointment.

We hope you’ve found this article helpful. If you have any questions and would like to know more about how we collaborate with local dentists in Burpengary and North Brisbane, get in touch with our friendly team.