Current research points to significant links between oral health and systemic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Dental practices, then, are being enlisted in the prevention and detection of these illnesses. According to a recent survey, dental hygienists are willing to provide the screenings and education that patients need.
Researchers sent a questionnaire to 3,133 randomly chosen practicing dental hygienists in the United States, with an effective response rate of 49.2%. According to the results, 94% saw the importance of chairside screenings for hypertension, followed by diabetes mellitus at 89%, cardiovascular disease at 85%, HIV at 79%, and hepatitis at 78%.
Also, 94% were willing to refer a patient for a medical consult, 85% would conduct screenings that yield immediate results, and between 57% and 95% would collect the data or samples needed, based on the test. Yet 98% expressed concern about dentist and owner support, patient willingness, and time, while 97% were concerned with training.
The researchers noted that integrating dental hygienists into screening activities likely will require additional training and education in the targeted diseases. This could be accomplished through continuing education courses, they suggest, and eventually incorporated into the educational curriculum.
The study, “American Dental Hygienists’ Attitudes Towards Chairside Medical Screening in a Dental Setting,” was published by the International Journal of Dental Hygiene.