Routine dental radiographs could uncover the risk of a stroke potential. Until recently, it was thought that most people who suffer a stroke do not have obvious symptoms beforehand. But a study done by medical researchers at the University of Buffalo shows that early warning signs may appear in the mouth.
Common dental radiographs can detect potentially dangerous calcium deposits in the carotid arteries in the neck. These arteries supply blood to the brain. The presence of calcium deposits is a sign of advanced atherosclerosis, a major cause of stroke. The study looked at close to three thousand new patients at university dental clinics over a two-year period. Researchers found evidence of calcification in the carotid arteries in 143 of them. They were all referred to a doctor for treatment.
The type of x-ray is called a panoramic radiograph. It’s a wide angle frontal scan showing the condition of teeth and surrounding bone and is a normal part of a regular dental checkup. Dentists can examine the radiograph and look for calcium deposits in the carotid arteries. Patients with signs of calcification can be referred to a medical doctor for preventive stroke treatment. In this way, the routine dental checkup can become a key way of detecting patients who are unknowingly at risk of having a stroke. Just another good reason to make sure your teeth get regular attention from a dentist.