Dentists could play a key role in detecting major systemic health conditions, a UK professional body has said.

The Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) has made the suggestion following publication of its position statement on oral health and general health. The statement highlights the links between oral health and general health, including conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and suggests how the oral health profession can play a broader role in prevention.

‘Good oral health is essential for our overall wellbeing,’ Professor Michael Escudier, dean of the FDS, said. ‘Dentists and other members of the oral healthcare team always inspect a patient’s mouth in the course of treatment. While checking a patient’s oral health, they can look for relevant signs of other conditions – chronic gum disease can be an indicator of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, for example. They can also offer advice on what dietary and lifestyle changes patients could make to improve their overall health, which can also help to prevent conditions such as obesity and oral cancer.’