What Health Problems is Your Dentist Able to Detect?
A dentist isn’t just checking for cleanliness and decay. The can see signs of problems with your bones, heart and digestion! Your dentist may be the first to diagnose a health problem. So, what can your dentist detect?
- Dementia: The confusion, loss of memory and disorganization of early stage dementia can lead to a lapse in your oral health routine. Your dentist can observe these changes, inquire regarding causes, inform your family, and refer you for assessment.
- Heart Problems: Gum disease can cause inflammation throughout the body contributing to the development of plaque in the arteries and increasing your risk of heart attack or stroke. Your dentist can see the early signs of gingivitis and help you diminish these risks.
- Diabetes: Loose teeth, a dry mouth and bleeding or receding gums can be warning signs of diabetes. Your dentist is able to detect these symptoms, instruct you on oral care and recommend testing.
- Osteoporosis: a medical condition in which your bones become fragile as a result of hormonal changes or deficiency of calcium and vitamin D. Your dentist may observe the early signs of osteoporosis (receding gums and loose teeth) and refer you to your physician for a bone density test.
- Digestive Problems: Twenty percent of patients with inflammatory bowel disorder develop lesions/ulcers in their mouth before experiencing cramps and diarrhea. Noting these early signs, your dentist can inquire about your medical history, ask about medications and take X-rays. If they finds no dental reason for these symptoms, they’ll refer you to your doctor.
- Eating Disorders: Bleeding gums, dry mouth and erosion of the front teeth may be signs of frequent vomiting and cue your dentist to the possibility of an eating disorder. After discussion, your dentist may refer you to a professional who can assist with this condition.
- GERD a condition in which the stomach’s contents flow back into the esophagus. You may be unaware of the problem and the damage it’s causing until your dentist detects erosion of the upper back molars. They may refer you to your regular doctor for assistance.
- Oral Cancer: The signs of oral cancer (sores, lumps or rough areas in the mouth, difficulty chewing and change in your bite) are often only detected during regular dental exams. If these symptoms are present, your dentist will refer you for an oral cancer screening.
- Kidney Disease: If your dentist notes dry mouth and a sweet or sour odor, they may suspect kidney difficulties and refer you to your doctor.
- HIV: If your dentist observes oral warts, lesions, or colored spots on your tongue and mouth, they may recommend seeing your primary care physician for a blood test to determine if you have the aids virus.
- Stress: Seeing the symptoms of grinding, your dentist may recommend a night guard and suggest you seek counselling to reduce your stress.
- Anemia: a condition in which the body has too few red blood cells. If the lining of your mouth is pale and your tongue is too smooth, your dentist may suspect anemia and refer you for a blood test.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: a progressive and disabling autoimmune disease that causes inflammation, swelling and pain in and around the joints and organs. If your dentist notices jaw swelling, an achy jaw, or inability to open your mouth widely, they may suspect rheumatoid arthritis and suggest you seek medical assistance.
- Celiac Disease: an autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine causing chronic diarrhea, abdominal distention, malabsorption and loss of appetite. If you complain of dry mouth and burning on your tongue, your dentist will look for enamel erosion. If all these symptoms are present, they may refer you for testing for celiac disease.
Your dentist sees much more than your teeth! They watch for changes in your mouth which indicate health problems allowing you to seek treatment quickly and ensure a successful outcome. Have regular dental exams!
If you are seeking a dental health professional to assist you in maintaining optimal overall health, call Centennial Smiles at (587) 317-7959.