Research out of NYU points to the oral hygiene industry as the new front line for preventative medicine.

A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health released the findings from data collected by a nursing-dental research group at New York University (NYU), and is the first of its kind to determine the proportion of Americans who are seen annually by a dentist but not by a general healthcare provider. The team analyzed data from 31,262 adults and children who participated in the Department of Health & Human Services 2008 Annual National Health Interview Survey.

While the study shows that 93 percent of children and 85 percent of adults have some form of health care insurance – a positive outcome – the researchers determined that this did not equate to regular interactions with a general healthcare provider. In fact, the study illustrates that 26 percent of kids and nearly one fourth of adults did not see a general healthcare provider during the period when the study was conducted. But the NYU team did find that about 20 million Americans – about 13 million adults and 7 million kids – visited a dentist. This fact suggests, as an article on NYU.edu explains, that dentists could double as front line healthcare practitioners, helping to identify systemic diseases which would otherwise go undetected:

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