Dental diseases are widespread and are often underrecognized and treated. Caries and periodontal disease are common dental conditions that cause the majority of tooth loss. Although these conditions are preventable, many persons do not receive regular dental care and have acute problems when seen by their physician. Dental diseases frequently affect patients with multiple systemic disorders, including autoimmune disorders, diabetes, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. The presence of dental disease may trigger inflammatory responses and have systemic consequences. Since dental disease affects almost all individuals, physicians should be able to recognize common conditions such as caries, periodontal disease, pulpitis, and dental abscess. In addition to initiating treatment and appropriate dental referrals, physicians should be familiar with the management of antibiotics and medications hi the perioperative period. Another important role for physicians is to help reduce the societal and economic impact of these diseases through patient education and prevention.
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