A New York University College of Dentistry study has concluded that dentists could screen at least 20 million Americans for hypertension, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.
The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, was conducted by a nursing-dental research team at NYU, and is the first of its kind to determine that nearly 20 million Americans annually visit a dentist but not a general healthcare provider.
The research findings give credence to the idea that dentists can play a crucial role as health care practitioners in identifying diseases which would otherwise go undetected in a significant portion of the population.
In the report, Dr. Shiela Strauss is quoted as saying, “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.” She is the 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 course of a routine dental examination, dentists and dental hygienists, as trained healthcare providers, could be taking their dental patient’s health history, checking blood pressure, and using direct clinical observation and X-rays to detect risk for certain diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.
What do you think? Would you like to see dentists and dental hygienists play a greater role in providing healthcare screenings for serious medical conditions?