You thought that getting your teeth cleaned regularly was just to take care of your oral health, but the truth is your dentist could be the first one to notice that something is amiss in another part of your body.
What goes on in your mouth can be very telling when it comes to the state of your overall health, as there are several dental issues that can alert you to other problems, including those listed below.
When your dentist looks at your gums and notices inflammation or loose teeth, he may ask you if there’s a history of cardiovascular disease in your family or if you have any heart problems. That’s because gum disease might increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
The inflammation within your mouth might cause inflammation to increase in other areas of your body, such as your arteries. Also, if you’re diagnosed with gum disease, the bacteria that’s within your mouth might travel to your heart and lead to disease within the cardiovascular system. Your dentist can start treating your gum disease, and you can take steps at home to keep your gums as clean as possible, to reduce your risk.
There are several symptoms that your dentist can pick up on during a routine exam, such as dry mouth, loose teeth, and gums that are dry, receding, bleeding, or infected and healing slowly. Because these symptoms can be associated with diabetes—a condition that could increase your risk of gum disease—your dentist might recommend getting a blood test to check for it.
In the event that you are diagnosed with diabetes, you can work with your primary care physician to get your condition under control. At the same time, experts recommend working with your dentist to treat the gum disease, especially since infections within your gums can make your diabetes more severe and increase the risk of heart disease.
Individuals with a history of gum disease and diabetes might also need to see their dentist more often, such as every three months.
Osteoporosis, commonly seen in postmenopausal women, causes your bones to become weaker. Believe it or not, your mouth can alert a dentist to thinning bones in other parts of your body, even though this condition typically won’t result in changes to your teeth.
When osteoporosis takes hold, it causes changes within the bone that gives support to your teeth. So if your dentist notices that you have loose teeth or a receding gum line, he may recommend talking to your doctor to see if osteoporosis is to blame and to receive the appropriate treatment.
The inflammation that’s associated with Crohn’s disease could affect your mouth, leading to raised bumps along the gums surrounding the teeth. You may not know that you have Crohn’s disease because mouth lesions might develop before you even experience abdominal symptoms and digestive upset. And because those oral bumps don’t result in pain, you may not notice them either.
Inflammatory bowel conditions, including Crohn’s disease, can also lead to recurring canker sores that you can ask your dentist about. Catching symptoms early will help you get relief as you bring your digestive system back into balance.
Because the health of your mouth can provide clues to your overall state of wellness, finding a dentist you can trust can give you peace of mind. With the right oral hygiene routine at home and at the dentist’s office, you can rest assured that your teeth and gums will be clean and strong, and that you’ll be able to tackle early symptoms of disease.