Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dentists Can Help Screen For Chronic Illnesses

Almost 20 million Americans visit a dentist annually, but not a general healthcare physician, according to an NYU study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

So what does this finding mean to researchers? Dentists can potentially play a crucial role as health care practitioners by identifying systemic diseases which would otherwise go undetected in a significant portion of the U.S. population.

"For these and other individuals, dental professionals are in a key position to assess and detect oral signs and symptoms of systemic health disorders that may otherwise go unnoticed, and to refer patients for follow-up care," said Dr. Shiela Strauss, an associate professor of nursing at the NYU College of Nursing and co-director of the statistics and data management core for NYU's Colleges of Nursing and Dentistry.

During the process of a standard dental examination, dentists and dental hygienists, as trained healthcare providers, could take a patient's health history, check blood pressure, and use direct clinical observation and X-rays to detect risk for systemic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

If dentists began to assist in these types of basic screenings, it could make a significant impact in proper treatment, early detection and prevention for many chronic illnesses. If you are in need of a dental exam, contact Kurz Family Dentistry in Dacula, GA.

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