A new cavity isn’t the only thing that could be uncovered at your next dental visit. Your dentist can tell a lot more than you would imagine about your overall health just by examining your mouth and teeth. Many people get their first hint of diagnosis for other health conditions after a few minutes in the dental chair.
In some cases, the level of care that you take with your oral hygiene can be reflective of how you treat the rest of your body. It’s not unusual for your dentist to be able to spot a variety of non-dental conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis and even acid reflux. Many of the early warning signs for these kinds of conditions can be spotted on the inside of your mouth.
Not everyone is a big fan of climbing up into the dentist’s chair. But, the truth is that getting an annual check-up with your dental insurance can keep more than just your teeth healthy. Let’s take a look at some of the non-dental conditions that your dentist could uncover at your next visit.
Your dentist will tell you that keeping a proper oral hygiene routine can actually help improve your heart health. Loose teeth and inflamed gums can be an early sign of heart disease. Studies have shown that people who get regular check-ups and cleanings have less of a chance of developing heart conditions.
So, how is your mouth related to your heart? When you develop oral health problems like gingivitis, that accumulation of bacteria can quickly move through your bloodstream and affect your heart health. Bacteria in your heart can make you more susceptible to blood clots and plaque build-up that can cause heart attacks.
The most common oral health issue in those that have diabetes is gum disease. Bleeding or inflamed gums and loose teeth can be warning signs of diabetes. Any kind of infection in your body can make it harder for the immune system to regulate. This can result in a reduction of insulin production and fluctuating blood sugar levels. Diabetics are advised to see their dentists at least twice a year to make sure that their gums and teeth are in good condition.
For people that are suffering from the early signs of cognitive decline or onset dementia, it’s not uncommon for their oral hygiene to suffer. Some people simply just forget to brush regularly. Dementia patients often lose their personal hygiene habits early in the illness.
In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, it has been discovered that there may also be a connection between poor oral hygiene and the development of cognitive issues. As bacteria builds up in the mouth due to a lack of brushing, it can end up traveling to the brain and causing deterioration.
Post-menopausal women are at a higher risk to develop osteoporosis than any other demographic. This age and nutrient deficiency disease causes a weakening of the bone structures throughout the body. The teeth in your mouth are not technically bone, however, they are supported by the bone of your jaw. So, while osteoporosis won’t necessarily affect the condition of your teeth, your dentist can still spot trouble along your jawline. Receding gums and loose teeth could be an indication that a patient is suffering from osteoporosis.
People that suffer from eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia often go to extraordinary lengths to hide their illnesses from their family and friends. In many cases, until physical signs like a dramatic loss of weight and problems with malnutrition start to manifest, most people can hide their condition.
Malnutrition, one of the more obvious side effects of anorexia and bulimia can be easily spotted by dentists. With the lack of proper nutrition comes the inevitable signs of wear on the body. Bleeding gums and dry mouth can be indicators that malnutrition is becoming a problem.
People who suffer with bulimia often go through purging as a way to limit their caloric intake. This routine of regular vomiting can show wear on the insides of the front teeth, resulting from damage caused by harsh stomach acid.
There are many causes of dry mouth, mostly environmental. So, what’s the big deal? Proper saliva production is vital to keeping your mouth in great shape. Saliva fluids act as a mouthwash to help clear away bacteria and food particles from the mouth naturally. When you suffer with dry mouth there can be a visible build-up of debris and plaque that can damage your teeth.
Dry mouth can be caused by allergies, arid climates, and medications. It can also be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease. An easy solution is to be conscious of your water intake and make sure to stay properly hydrated.
Most people that suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are familiar with the uncomfortable burning sensation that is caused by a backup of stomach acid. However, much of the early phases of GERD happen at night while you sleep and you may not even know that you have it.
Acid reflux can cause a variety of problems that go beyond the general discomfort. Esophageal erosion and cancer are two of the most serious consequences of GERD. Your dentist may be able to spot some of the warning signs.
Erosion of the insides of the back molars can mean that stomach acid is coming up into the back of your throat and mouth while you sleep. It helps to raise your head up when you go to bed and stop eating foods too close to bedtime.
It’s amazing how many things the health of your mouth can tell you about what is going on in the rest of your body. You may visit your dentist for your yearly check-up to make sure that your teeth are in good shape but, they may be able to find the early warning signs of other conditions. If your dentist spots a problem, it’s always a good idea to follow up with your regular doctor to talk about those findings.