While the use of autopsies has benefited the practice of medicine for centuries, their use to advance oral health care has been limited, according to the cover story of the March issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association.
In "The Need for Integrated Research Autopsies in the Era of Precision Oral Medicine," the authors summarized the advantages of minimally invasive autopsies of dental, oral and craniofacial tissues and outlined practices for supporting research autopsies of the oral and craniofacial complex.
"In the era of precision oral medicine, the research autopsy is poised to play an important role in understanding oral-systemic health, including infectious disease, autoimmunity, craniofacial genetics and cancer," said Kevin M. Byrd, D.D.S., Ph.D., corresponding author of the article and manager of oral and craniofacial research and Anthony R. Volpe Research Scholar at the ADA Science & Research Institute.
The cover story is JADA's latest addition to its Oral Science Trends series, made up of invited reviews that explain where current biomedical and clinical sciences are leading to impactful changes in dentists’ ability to provide care and improve health.
In the article, the authors highlighted the importance of partnerships among oral health research centers, dental schools, academic hospitals and associated autopsy centers to the future of oral and overall health initiatives. They said it will be important to normalize a research culture in which autopsies are a tool to rapidly understand disease pathophysiology.
"The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the oral cavity as a site for viral infection and transmission potential; this was only discovered via clinical autopsies," Dr. Byrd said. "The realization of the integrated autopsy’s value in full body health initiatives will benefit patients across the globe."
Other articles in the March issue of JADA discuss virtual reality and music therapy interventions, maternal disability and prenatal oral health experiences, and calcium-containing bioactive desensitizers.
Every month, JADA articles are published online at JADA.ADA.org in advance of the print publication.