Dentists must check patients for alcohol abuse - expert
Patients could soon have to answer questions about their drinking habits and alcohol consumption when they visit they dentist.
That is, if experts get their way.
They are claiming if dentists quizzed their patients about the amount of alcohol that they drink and the effect drinking has on them, it could help to diagnose certain health problems at an earlier stage.
It is the belief of the researchers – led by Professor Jack Shepherd from the University of Cardiff – that routine dental checkups put dentists in an ideal position to spot cancer of the mouth, larynx and oesophagus.
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“This provides the primary dental healthcare team with unique opportunities to intervene, particularly as asking patients about their levels of alcohol consumption is a routine component of medical history taking,” the researchers said in the Royal College of Surgeons' Dental Journal.
Binge drinking is known to cause such illnesses and it can also lead to tooth decay, enamel erosion and cavities.
In addition to spotting the warning signs of these ailments, the research team are arguing the practice could have wider benefits by preventing injuries that occur while people are drunk – from things like falling over, drink driving and fighting.
If a dentist felt that a patient was putting their health at risk through binge drinking, they could refer them to their GP or a counselling service.
The team added: “After screening, the individuals identified as misusing alcohol could then be offered treatment, including brief motivational advice sessions delivered by hygienists or dental nurses.
“Liaison with the patients' medical practitioner could also result in referral for specialist care should the patient demonstrate alcohol dependence or depression, for example.”
Meanwhile, Professor Shepherd commented: “Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to cancer of the mouth, larynx and oesophagus and dentists may be the first to notice these conditions.
“We need to introduce an alcohol screening tool that reliably detects hazardous and harmful drinking alongside effective treatment.”
Peter Ward, the Chief Executive of the British Dental Association (BDA) echoed Shepherd’s thoughts.
“We agree that the dental examination is an ideal time to promote oral and general health messages,” he said.
“It is well recognised that excessive alcohol consumption, alongside smoking, increases the risk of developing oral cancer and gum disease so the dentist has always had an important role to play in reinforcing these health messages and detecting such cancers.
“The opportunity for dentists to concentrate more on preventive messages is currently being tested in dental pilots in England.”
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Dubai's new smart neuro spinal hospital: need to know
We take a look at Dubai's new smart hospital.
What: The Neuro Spinal Hospital and Radiosurgery Centre is a new hospital featuring state-of-the-art technology for spinal, neurosurgical, neurological, orthopaedic, radiosurgery and cancer treatments. The 700 million AED hospital, (equivalent to £138 million), has 114 beds, smart patient rooms, and green spaces for patient rehabilitation, and is four times the capacity of its former premises in Jumeirah. It is also the UAE’s first hospital to have surgical robots.
Where: The hospital is located in the Dubai Science Park. Founded in 2005, Dubai Science Park is home to more than 350 companies from multinational corporations in life sciences, biotechnology and research; over 4,000 people work here each day.
Who: The UAE's Neuro Spinal Hospital and Radiosurgery Centre was first established in Jumeirah in 2002 by Dr. Abdul Karim Msaddi, as the first as the first "super-specialty" neuroscience hospital.
Why: With advanced diagnosis and robotics, the hospital will provide care across neuroscience, spine, orthopaedics and oncology for people residing in the UAE, as well as international patients.
Prof. Abdul Karim Msaddi, Chairman and Medical Director of the hospital, said: “We are proud to bring world-class healthcare services to Dubai and believe our next-generation hospital will be a game-changer for the emirate’s and the region’s medical industry.
"It will not only significantly increase the availability of specialist neuroscience and radiosurgery treatments and provide better patient care but help attract and develop local and international talent. Investing in the new centre represents our continued faith in the resilience of the region’s economy, as well as a testament to our ongoing drive towards healthcare innovation in the UAE.”