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Not Just a Teeth Cleaning: General Dentists Emphasize the Importance of Wellness Checkups

Posted: 9th August 2017 09:34
A recent survey from the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) shows that some Americans don't realize their dental wellness checkups cover much more than hygiene.* Only a quarter (25%) of respondents said they associate going to their general dentist with getting screened for oral cancer, and even fewer (14%) reported viewing their general dentist as being an expert in making broader connections to improving or maintaining systemic (or overall) health.

"The AGD represents nearly 40,000 general dentists who treat millions of patients each year; we know dental visits can feel unnecessary when patients don't perceive anything to be wrong," said AGD president Maria A. Smith, DMD, MAGD. "This survey underscores the need for greater awareness about oral health's relation to overall health. The condition of your mouth often mirrors the condition of the rest of your body, and maintaining a healthy body includes taking care of your oral health on a regular basis."

"What makes general dentists unique is that no other health practitioner is supposed to be seen as frequently, even without any symptoms," Dr. Smith added. "The mouth is the gateway to the entire body, and poor oral hygiene can result in or worsen cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, and other illnesses. Regular dental visits, every six months, are a chance to establish an oral care home base, educate patients, prevent disease, and screen for other conditions."

Milestone studies have demonstrated the connection between oral health and cardiovascular health, but general dentists may also be the first line of defense against other maladies, such as anorexia and bulimia, since the first signs of these disorders often are revealed in the mouth.

In fact, many systemic diseases have oral manifestations. Swollen gums can be a sign of a serious health issue such as diabetes, oral cancer, or heart disease.** AGD is working to help raise awareness that good oral health is closely linked to overall wellness. The organization is advocating at both the local and national levels and is collaborating with AGD members to provide them with resources to better support their patients and communities.

Additional findings from the survey include:

"Establishing a strong relationship with a primary general dentist has both health and monetary benefits," said Dr. Smith. "AGD members report that people with a solid oral-care home base experience better overall wellness, and accrue lower health costs over their lifetime."

AGD, which recently launched a new logo and brand expression, focuses on providing CE opportunities for general dentists to help them build bright practices and deliver the best patient care. This includes helping to reach and educate patients on modern dentistry issues and to encourage optimal oral health, which leads to optimal overall health and wellness.

*AGD conducted an online survey in June 2017 among 1,174 U.S. adults (of those, 918 said they have a dentist). Some data was weighted to match U.S. Census Bureau data by gender, age, race, income and region. 
**Miller, K. (2015). Periodontal Disease and Heart Health. Retrieved from 
***Lee, D. (2015, June 9). America's obsession with perfecting its teeth. Retrieved from

About the Academy of General Dentistry
The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) is a professional association led by general dentists and dedicated to oral wellness. Founded in 1952, the organization helps members deliver the best patient care by offering lifelong learning, professional networking and advocacy for building a dental care home base.

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