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September 14, 1957


JAMA. 1957;165(2):159. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.02980200039012

Sir William Osler has called the oral cavity a mirror of the rest of the body. Yet while the changes in eyegrounds that are associated with systemic diseases are well recognized, the changes in and around the mouth do not seem to have equal appreciation by the physician.1

Oral tissues are unusually sensitive indicators of the general health status of an individual. This easily accessible, painless diagnostic site particularly reflects initial signs of nutritional deficiencies, endocrine imbalances, gastrointestinal disturbances, communicable diseases, blood dyscrasias including the anemias, and excessive exposure to radioactivity. In addition to the many peridontal manifestations of medical illness, not the least important reflection of disease can be demonstrated by the teeth themselves. Up to 37% of persons with congenital syphilis have been found to have hypoplasia of the occlusal surface of all four first molars.2

With growing emphasis on the dangers of an individual receiving

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