Most of my blog topics get recycled over time – the ones that are so important that you can never get information enough or reminders enough about them. One is about how your dentist is doing things that could uncover a medical health risk and so here I go again …
Did you have your blood pressure checked the last time you saw your dentist? Well, it’s becoming a more common practice at dental offices as medical professionals strive to take every opportunity to make sure patients are healthy throughout their bodies – and not just relying on a dentist to make sure your teeth and gums are in good shape while your family doctor deals with “medical” issues.
If you dentist can spot an undiagnosed problem such as high blood pressure – an issue that many people face but can be unaware of – why shouldn’t he or she let you know so you can get immediate treatment by a medical doctor? Conversely, if your MD can spot a potential oral issue, why shouldn’t he or she let you know so you can see a dentist? Each doctor working at a systemic approach (that is, looking at more than their specialty) will ultimately together provide a broader look at all patients’s complete health.
For example, tests are being developed to easily and quickly diagnose diabetes with a swab. So, your dentist may soon be doing such routine checks.
Further, many dentists already take a patient’s blood pressure before each visit. Dentists do look for signs now, such as if a patient complains of or shows symptoms of dry mouth or if a patient is slow to heal after a procedure, but there is a movement in medicine to expand the systemic approach by all doctors.
Experts say having dentists do such tests and continue looking for the signs of an undiagnosed case of diabetes (as well as high blood pressure) will help save lives.
One of the latest developments in diagnosing diabetes was noted in a study by New York University and published in the American Journal of Public Health. The study shows that a test easily done at a dental office can help expose undiagnosed diabetes for patients.
The report is important because some people see their dentist more regularly than they see a primary care doctors for such things as an annual physical. Here’s a quote from the NYU study (http://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2015/02/26/nyu-study-successfully-screens-for-diabetes-at-dental-visits-using-oral-blood.html):
“In light of findings from the study, the dental visit could be a useful opportunity to conduct diabetes screening among at-risk, undiagnosed patients – an important first step in identifying those who need further testing to determine their diabetes status,” according to Dr. Shiela Strauss, associate professor of nursing for NYU’s Colleges of Nursing and Dentistry.
Look for additional research in this field and look for your dentist to be expanding his or her preventative diagnosis of your overall health.