So this places the dentist in an advantageous spot to administer a simple three-drop in-office blood test to prove or disprove suspicions concerning the initial stages of a serious disorder. The simple, yet effective blood testing kits are convenient, inexpensive, and approved by the Food and Drug Administration. They test specifically for C-reactive protein, a known marker for inflammation.
Schefdore committed to a year’s worth of studies and found that over 20 percent of periodontal patients who received the blood test from their dentists were then diagnosed by their doctors as being at high risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes, or another grave medical condition.
According to Schefdore, having patients, physicians, and dentists working together would be better for Americans. He and thousands of other dentists firmly believe that millions of lives could be saved annually if blood screening practices were universally adopted by dentists. Schefdore adds that he wants to make the blood screening standard dental care within the next five years.
During routine dental exams, dentists also look for evidence of oral cancer. According to data from the Oral Cancer Foundation, 35,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with oral cancer, while 8,000 Americans succumb to it each year. Without early detection, survival rates decline dramatically.
Dental director at CIGNA dental, Dr. Cary Sun, emphasizes that oral cancer is not in the news as often as other forms of cancer. As a result, educating the general population about the disease and its symptoms can aid in the early detection of oral cancer. Some signs of oral cancer can include:
- strange spots
- unexplained sensitive regions in the mouth
- a feeling of something being stuck in one’s throat
- a thickening of tissue within the mouth or neck
Dr. Sun adds that screenings for oral cancer are normally fast and painless. She believes that people need to ensure that they receive regular dental exams, not solely for teeth cleaning and cavity treatment, but for a preemptive defense against serious ailments such as oral cancer.