Innovative research published in the British Dental Journal reveals that dental professionals can play a crucial role in public health beyond oral care.
The study, conducted in two general dental practices, added a series of health checks to regular dental appointments.
These checks included measuring patients’ blood pressure, blood sugar levels, cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), and waist-to-height ratio.
Surprising Health Findings at the Dentist’s Office
The study observed more than 500 patients and uncovered startling health statistics:
- 78% had higher than normal blood pressure.
- Over half (55.8%) had an unhealthy BMI.
- Nearly 40% had a higher than average waist-to-height ratio.
- 17% showed abnormal cholesterol levels.
- About 3% had elevated blood sugar levels.
Patients with abnormal results were advised to see their general practitioner (GP) for further examination and care.
Dentistry’s Role in Holistic Health Care
This study highlights the potential for dental teams to contribute significantly to detecting chronic diseases early.
The findings show that dental professionals, including dental and hygiene therapists, can be trained to conduct these health screenings effectively. They can offer lifestyle advice and guide patients to appropriate medical services.
However, the researchers emphasize the need for clear guidelines and proper interpretation of test results to avoid confusion among patients.
Stronger collaboration between dental and general medical care is also necessary to integrate dentistry into broader health care efforts, as outlined in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan.
Dr. Janine Doughty, the study’s lead author, notes the practicality and importance of this approach. “Many patients regularly visit their dentist but rarely see their GP,” she explains.
“Incorporating health checks into dental visits could provide reassurance for some and a much-needed health wake-up call for others.”
Expanding the Scope of Dental Visits
This research marks a significant step towards redefining the role of dental care in public health. By incorporating basic health screenings into dental check-ups, dentists can identify patients at risk of chronic diseases and encourage timely medical intervention.
This approach could transform dental clinics into vital health screening centers, playing a crucial role in early disease detection and prevention.
The research findings can be found in British Dental Journal.
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