More Smiles Dental Spa Dentistry Blog | James A. Moreau, Jr., D.D.S.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Diagnosing Health Problems in the Dental Office

Since I posted yesterday about the "Today Show" quiz on health, and particularly the connection between dental health and your overall health picture, I wanted to share at least one instance in our office that may have proved life-saving for one young man. The story happened years ago but is fresh on my mind because the young man, who is now a grown man, recently called Dr. Moreau from some distant state to thank him and tell him how much he appreciates what Dr. Moreau did for him.

It was easily a dozen years ago. A young teenage boy came in for his regular check-up visit. During the course of the exam, Dr. Moreau noticed an unusual change in the soft tissues inside his mouth. It was subtle, but Dr. Moreau strongly recommended that he and his parents schedule an appointment right away with a physician to follow-up and determine if there was a systemic cause for what he saw. I don't remember back then that there was as much focus as there is now on a connection between dental health and overall health. But Dr. Moreau recognized that this was something that needed to be checked out; he knew that something was definitely wrong, and he could not identify a dental cause.

The family took Dr. Moreau's recommendation seriously and began a series of tests to flush out any underlying disorders. Sure enough, the diagnosis came back leukemia. At the time, this young teenage boy's life was totally disrupted by the disease and treatments that he had to submit to. He was angry, understandably, and at least some of the anger was directed at Dr. Moreau for having started him down this nasty path.

As I said earlier, though, the young man was diagnosed early, underwent necessary treatment, survived, and lives a happy and fulfilled life today. What a joy it was recently to get his phone call, to know that he's doing well, and that he's grateful to Dr. Moreau for encouraging him toward early diagnosis, which may have well saved his life.

In our office, we do not want to ever minimize the importance of periodic exams and professional cleanings. When we are looking in a patient's mouth, we know that a patient's life could depend on our thoroughness, our up-to-date training, the continuing education courses we complete, the journals we read, and the details to which we attend. The exam should never be cursory; there is too much responsibility to be dismissive or purfunctory.

And, you share that responsibility as well. You are responsible for your own health and making sure that you do not neglect the overall picture. It is vitally important that you get the care you need in a timely and regular schedule. Life is too precious for neglect.


posted by MoreSmiles at 11:19 AM


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