Can Dental X-Rays Be Used to Detect A Stroke?
Going to the dentist may save from getting a stroke, studies show. In fact, in the United States someone has a stroke every 45 seconds, so any preventative possibilities should not be overlooked. These statistics also say that strokes are one of the leading causes of death and disability today. Closely related to other health risk factors, strokes typically come with very little warning and are known to age a person’s appearance in a matter of seconds. But, thanks to recent technology upgrades in x-ray machines, dentists can help fight carotid artery calcification (CAC) of the artery, which is one of the leading causes for stroke.
Carotid Artery Calcification (CAC)
The use of panoramic x-ray technology, adopted by the best cosmetic dentists in the world, has led to an exciting tool that helps screen for possible heart conditions. When getting a full panoramic x-ray at the dentist, arteries in the neck can show CAC buildup in the arteries before a stroke occurs.
By locating possible CAC blockage, a dental x-ray should help in identifying more high-risk patients. It is important to find CAC because it can also lead to serious diseases such as Carotid Artery Disease, which is the narrowing of the carotid artery, usually caused by atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque within the artery. People who smoke, are obese, are inactive, or who have high cholesterol, hypertension, or high blood sugar levels are at an increased risk of carotid artery disorder.
Dentist Working With Doctors
On average people see the dentist more than their doctors, so having a dentist acting as the first line of defense makes a lot of sense. When getting a set of panoramic radiographs taken, why not ask your provider to take it a step further and look for signs of oral cancer and CAC. If an obstruction were discovered by a dentist, the individual would likely be referred to their family physician for a Carotid Duplex Ultrasound and, if proven, the blockage can be treated by a variety of procedures including lifestyle adjustment, prescription medication, surgical procedure, or other established procedures.
A New Approach
Instead of patients going to the dentist just for head x-rays, this approach should only be applied when a patient already needs an x-ray for a genuine dental purpose. We want to avoid people going to the dentist for anything not oral related, for obvious reasons. Most providers really don’t want Dentists to take these radiographs just to look for CAC, but to get in the habit of looking at the whole x-ray rather than just the teeth, and of reporting any findings to the patient for a follow-up with their doctor.