During dental checkups, your dentist and hygienist will clean your teeth and do a thorough exam to ensure that no oral health issues have arisen. Though many people think dentists only focus on your oral health, 90% of systemic, whole-body health conditions present symptoms inside the mouth. For this reason, your dentist may actually end up discovering medical conditions that impact other parts of the body. Read on to learn about six health conditions dentists may detect during routine dental checkups.
#1: Oral Cancer
As the 6th most common cancer in the United States, approximately 54,010 American adults are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. Unfortunately, it can begin developing without you seeing or feeling anything. Luckily, your dentist does an oral cancer screening at every dental checkup, and the survival rate for this disease is over 80% when caught and treated early on.
Bleeding gums, dry mouth, and loose teeth are all common signs of gum disease. This condition is usually brought on by poor oral hygiene, but patients with diabetes are at a considerably higher risk of developing it. If you practice good oral hygiene and are still experiencing one or more of these symptoms, your dentist may recommend having a blood test done by your primary care doctor to see if you have diabetes.
#3: Intense Stress
Chronic stress weakens your immune system, which can lead to chronic gum inflammation. Ultimately, will likely lead to gum disease. The damage that this causes to your gums can cause your teeth to loosen, damage the supporting bone, and even result in tooth loss. Feelings of anxiousness can also trigger bruxism, or teeth grinding. Bruxism is often difficult for patients to identify since it mostly takes place while they sleep. Luckily, your dentist can spot signs of wear and tear on the teeth, and they may recommend a custom nightguard to correct the problem.
Patients with GERD, also called gastroesophageal reflux disease or acid reflux, regurgitate small amounts of stomach acid. Though many patients recognize this problem by discomfort in their upper abdomen or heartburn, it’s harder to identify if it occurs while they’re asleep. Stomach acid can dissolve tooth enamel and create small lesions in the back of the mouth. Your dentist can detect these signs of acid reflux so you can receive the treatment you need.
#5: Heart Disease
Gums that are swollen, red, or bleeding gums may be warning signs of gum disease, but they may also mean that heart disease is present. According to Harvard Medical School, people with gum disease are at two to three times the risk of having a stroke, heart attack, or other serious cardiovascular issues. The earlier gum disease is detected, the easier it will be to treat and even reverse.
Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens the bones. It can be difficult to identify since it doesn’t have any symptoms that are noticeable from the outside. Dental X-rays can be used to detect it early on.
Biannual dental checkups are an important part of maintaining good oral and overall health. Make a point of visiting your dentist regularly to keep your smile (and the rest of your body) in the best possible shape.
About the Practice
Distinguished Dental offers Fort Worth residents of all ages the exceptional advanced dental care they deserve. Led by Dr. Sheri McIntosh, they take pride in beautifying the smiles of their city one patient at a time. During routine dental checkups, they can catch early signs of serious medical issues so you can receive the treatment you need promptly. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Distinguished Dental at (817) 337-8300 or visit their website.