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Professor says full oral exam is needed
Only 7 percent of dentists perform the mouth and neck exams that screen for disease, a New York oral pathologist said.
Dental health providers can be the first line of care when it comes to oral health, said Dr. Gwen Cohen-Brown, a professor of dental hygiene at New York City College of Technology. The mouth is the portal to the body and a reflection of general health. We as health providers need to be able to recognize things like a yeast infection that doesn't go away or specific tumors and be able to bring up such subjects with our patients.Since joining the New York City Tech faculty in 2004, she has been teaching the College's dental hygiene students to handle tricky situations. We have had cases where we picked up on medical or dental problems that other places didn't, Cohen-Brown said. Students have uncovered situations that merited biopsies or high blood pressure medication, and oral cancers and other tumors. Hygienists can't make diagnoses, but they need to know how diagnoses are arrived at for their licensing. And since City Tech students have a 100 percent pass rate on licensing exams, their patients are getting the best care, she said. Because of health care disparities, sometimes we are the first health care provider patients see.
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