Should Primary Care Providers Examine the Mouth?

The importance of oral health as a component of comprehensive health has received well-deserved national attention. A healthy and pain-free mouth supports good nutrition and the ability to sleep and focus at school or work. The physician needs only a medical pen light, tongue blade, and gauze to conduct a concise oral examination that can be instrumental in helping patients to maintain their overall health (see video produced by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research). A 5-minute oral examination could help physicians not only recognize poor oral health but also detect clues to seemingly unrelated health issues.