Many Dentists Now Give Basic Medical Screenings During Checkups

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Busy schedules keep a lot of people from going to a doctor on a regular basis.

However, many do find time for their twice-yearly visit to the dentist to have their teeth cleaned. That is why some dentists are now including some basic medical screenings during that checkup.

A Professor at Tufts University Dental School, Dr. Dawn West has been at the cutting edge of this trend.

“The mouth is a gateway to the human body so dentists are in a position to detect diseases such as diabetes [and] heard disease,” she explained.

According to Dr. West, dentists are looking for clues like inflammation, gum damage, redness, bleeding, sores and dry mouth.

“We can actually do sugar testing in the dental clinic by a simple blood or urine test,” she said.

Mareesa Cardenas always gets her blood pressure checked before each dental cleaning. She finds it comforting hearing that her numbers are right where they should be. That’s not the case for everyone, according to Dr. Mason McCargar.

“We encounter patients with high blood pressure daily. There have been times in the past where we’ve actually not been able to do the procedure as scheduled and have actually had to refer a patient to the ER,” he said.

Dentists have always checked for oral cancer but blood pressure blood sugar tests for diabetes are relatively new.

Several dental schools are now teaching students to make it routine, so we could see more of it in the future.

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