Traditionally, the head, ears, eyes, notes, and throat (HEENT) examination, as performed by healthcare providers has rarely included an evaluation of components of the oral cavity such as teeth, gingiva, mucosa, tongue and palate.  Educators from the New York University College of Nursing (NYUCN) are working to change that paradigm.  With a long-standing commitment to interprofessional education, NYU has created innovative partnerships between the College of Dentistry and College of Nursing.

Recently, the NYUCN  created a curriculum to teach oral systemic health to medical care providers, a program being referred to as TOSH.  Within this curriculum that the classic HEENT examination is being expanded to include the oral cavity including an acronym change to HEENOT, signifying the addition of ‘O’ for oral cavity assessment.  Health care providers receive basic education and clinical practice skills to be able to identify and discuss oral problems with patients and refer to the appropriate oral health care provider.  

This primary care approach to examining the oral cavity can prevent or allow earlier intervention for a variety of disorders including early childhood caries, decay in older individuals, oral cancers, gingival/periodontal concerns, xerostomia, and diabetes and other systemic disorders that may manifest orally or have a strong oral-systemic connection.
Details about the program, including particulars of the students who have participated, evidence of inclusion of HEENOT examinations and increased interprofessional referrals have been recently published in a journal article titled ‘Putting the Mouth Back in the Head:  HEENT to HEENOT.

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