Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Screening for Heart Disease in the Dental Chair?

Have trouble choosing between mint and bubblegum flavored fluoride? In the future, you may have to decide if you want your dentist screening you for diabetes.

A new study by researchers at the University of Buffalo found that many dentists are willing to screen their patients for diseases like hypertension and hepatitis.

The study was published this month in the Journal of the American Dental Association.

More than 7,400 general dentists were surveyed. A total of 1,945 respondents completed the survey.

Of the respondents, 82 percent were male. Fifty-nine percent were between the ages of 40 and 59. And 85 percent had practiced dentistry for 10 years or more.

Three out of every four dentists thought it was important for them to screen for hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A majority indicated they would be willing to check patients for hepatitis and HIV.

Screening could involve taking blood pressure or measuring height and weight. Dentists might also collect saliva and blood samples.

“Chair-side” dental screenings may help slow the growing number of people with heart disease and diabetes. Many Americans see their dentist twice a year, so this would allow dentists to monitor their health regularly.

The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine already educates dentists on treating sleep apnea. Treatment of sleep apnea can help prevent heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Two more studies are being prepared for publication. One looks at patients' attitudes toward dentists performing chair-side screenings for medical conditions. The other examines physicians' attitudes toward dental chair-side screening.

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.