General Health screening as part of a periodontal examination

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Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes are common systemic illnesses with reliable, predictive risk factors. CVD is the number one killer worldwide accounting for nearly 30% of deaths and type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in many western industrialized countries. Both of these illnesses can go undiagnosed in an alarming number of people for significant periods of time. The relationship between oral health and systemic health has become the focus of much discussion and research in recent times. It is now widely accepted that periodontal disease is associated with systemic illnesses such as CVD and type 2 diabetes. Cigarette smoking and obesity are major risk factors accounting for a large portion of the global disease burden. Many periodontal patients may be at risk of systemic conditions but be asymptomatic and undiagnosed. With an aging population who are mostly retaining their natural dentition, the need for periodontal management will continue to rise in the future. Dental professionals are well placed to perform general health screening for their patients. Therefore, risk assessment during the periodontal examination may facilitate the early identification of the large proportion of people who are unaware of their risk status. As identification and intervention of patients with increased risk factors is key to lowering the systemic disease burden, general health screening during periodontal examinations may present an important opportunity for many patients.