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Page last updated at 06:35 GMT, Wednesday, 4 April 2012 07:35 UK

'Dentists should look for signs of alcoholism'


A new paper in the Royal College of Surgeons' Dental Journal says that dentists should lead the way on fighting alcoholism as they are the only regular contact with the NHS that many people have.

Author of the report, Jonathan Shepherd, professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Cardiff University, told the Today programme's Sarah Montague that this is "a natural extension" to the overall duty of care that dentists have.

"We are expecting prevention advice when we go to see the dentist," he said adding that going to the dentist can be an opportunity to get structured advice "which we know works and reduces alcohol misuse in the long term".

He said that although it was rare, alcohol misuse does present itself during dental check ups.

Some of the symptoms include early signs of mouth and throat cancer, neglected bad teeth which go with alcohol problems and gastric reflux, which is quite common in people with alcohol problems, and can erode the teeth.

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