The link between poor dental health and other, systemic medical problems is well known. Dentists have pushed for a strong role in any national system of health care reform in order to take advantage of these connections, and the American Journal of Cardiology and the Journal of Periodontology recently published new joint guidelines for treating the link between gum disease and heart disease.
The Washington Post also reports that more dentists are taking advantage of these links to examine the clues to possible other conditions their patients may have.
"We look around the mouth and we look for color changes. We're looking for certain smells. Spots around the gums," said Washington dentist Joseph Kravitz to the Post. "Every dentist in this country has this training," Kravitz said. "So it's good for consumers to make sure their dentists are paying attention."
While the link between heart disease and gum disease has received the most attention, it is not the only issue one might find during a dental checkup, according to Kravitz.
Kidney disease and acid reflux can be detected, as can oral cancer and leukemia.
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