What does your dentist know about you that you don't? It turns out, it could be a lot of things. While most people think of their yearly visit to the dentist as nothing more than a routine cleaning and a check into their oral health, your dentist could actually be the first person to realize that you're suffering from a serious medical issue. Many systemic diseases have oral manifestations that can be overlooked by regular doctors. This is what your dentist can detect.
Gum disease, which includes bleeding gums and loose teeth, can be an indicator of diabetes. Chronic bad breath that doesn't seem to respond to ordinary measures can also be hallmarks of the disease. Another indicator is slow healing time—if a small cut on your gums seems to be healing really slowly, make sure you mention it to your dentist. He or she can refer you over to a doctor for testing that can easily determine whether or not you have the disease.
Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 27% of men over the age of 50 and 1 out of every 3 women over the age of 50 will experience a fracture related to the disorder. How can your dentist detect the disease? While teeth aren't affected, the x-rays that are taken at the start of your visit can show the changes in your jawbone, surrounding your teeth.
Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) can cause heartburn that makes you miserable—or you may sleep right through it and never know that you even have it. Your dentist, however, may be able to spot the signs that you're struggling with the condition even if you don't realize that it's a problem due to the changes in your dental enamel. The stomach acid brought up by the GERD can eat away at your teeth, causing permanent damage. Worse, GERD can also lead to esophageal cancer if it is left untreated, which makes this an important condition to treat even if you feel relatively fine.
Many autoimmune disorders have chronic dental symptoms. One dental issue common to autoimmune disorders is called lichen planus, a type of mouth sore. These small bluish-white spots can be mistaken for ordinary mouth ulcers, but they may actually be a sign that your autoimmune system isn't functioning correctly. Lupus and Crohn's disease are two common autoimmune disorders that can cause the problem. In addition, people who have Celiac's, a disorder that makes them unable to properly process gluten, will also often develop the condition.
Dental care is important to your teeth, but it's also important to your overall health. Don't skip that next dental appointment at a place like Parker Family Dental—your health could depend on it.