Some topics for my blog have been written, re-written and re-written again. Those that are most important, need to be told again and again. And then again. So, today, I’m yet again posting about how dentists are beginning look at patients in a “systemic” way – that is, the health of the patient’s entire being and how a person’s mouth can reflect potential medical problems throughout a body.
At the top of the list of medical conditions that can be diagnosed during a visit to the dentist: Cardiovascular disease, especially high blood pressure. That’s one reason you’ll probably have your blood pressure taken at each visit to your dentist in the future.
The key here is how your dentist views you as a whole person and not just your mouth. For example, periodontal disease has been linked to cardiovascular disease in a variety of studies and so a red flag can go up for dentists who see young(er) patients who are experiencing periodontal problems at a time of life unusual for such disease.
Also, dentists who do oral surgery take their patients’ blood pressure as part of invasive procedures and the number that comes up on the machine is an immediate reflection of part of the patient’s cardiac health. At my practice, we also take the blood pressure of all new patients.
Couple both of those with other visual or written clues – say a patient’s weight or that they have noted a family trait of high blood pressure in their health history – and the dentist might discuss it with them and make a recommendation for the patient to see a cardiologist or get to their primary care physician for an annual physical exam.
So, patients going to the dentist for even the most routine appointment can expect to have their vital signs taken. Just as a patient has their blood pressure checked at every visit to their medical doctor, they can expect to experience it at the dentist as well.
Bringing both dentists and medical doctors into the equation of overall health should mean more patients are getting great advice. Some patients avoid doctors for such important preventative health care as annual physicals but see their dentist twice each year, while the other side of the coin can be a person who doesn’t want to see a dentist but their medical doctor can spot oral issues and recommend a visit to the dentist.
If you don’t have a dentist, consider calling the full-service Naples Institute of Implant Dentistry (239-261-8200). We can help you take care of your mouth.