While the scrape of the scaler against your enamel might leave the biggest impression, cavities and gum disease aren’t the only problems regular cleanings take into consideration. Your dentist actually has a window into your whole body health right there in your mouth. If you have certain systemic health conditions, early symptoms may actually appear in the mouth first.
If you’re trying to stay healthy (and who isn’t?), visiting your dentist every six months is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stay in fighting shape. Keep reading to learn which conditions show up in the mouth, and why there may be such a strong mouth-body connection for certain health problems.
Been a little while since your last exam? No need to worry – just reach out and schedule your next appointment. We look forward to seeing you!
Oral-Presenting Health Problems Your Dentist Might Spot
A number of studies have shown that those with moderate to severe gum disease are more likely to experience some form of cardiovascular disease. This includes both heart disease and stroke. More research is necessary before it will be clear whether there is a cause-effect relationship going in both directions (i.e. gum disease can cause heart disease & vice versa), but initial findings suggest this exists.
Those with healthy gums are less likely to experience heart disease. And since gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, is very easy to treat but tough to notice on your own, dental exams are all the more important. Gingivitis manifests in many different ways, and can be as subtle as slightly puffy gums. Your dentist will notice the signs and help you take action at home to prevent gingivitis from progressing. Usually, this just means more rigorous brushing and flossing.
As with heart disease, diabetics are more likely to have gum disease (as well as other oral health problems). This may be due to diabetes’ impact on the body’s healing process and immune system. It’s harder for those with diabetes to bounce back from gum disease, leading to a higher likelihood of tooth loss.
Oral cancer has seen a resurgence in recent years due to the spread of HPV. It’s always important to stay abreast of cancer awareness. And since oral cancer can be more likely due to alcohol, use of tobacco, and certain foods, your daily habits could put you at risk.
At Hinsdale Dentistry, we provide oral cancer screenings with the VELscope Vx. This simple handheld tool passes light over the tissues in the mouth and throat. The measure of tissue fluorescence when exposed to the light tells your dentist whether there are potentially cancerous tissues present. A biopsy will then tell you definitively.
This screening is quick, painless and can save patients’ lives with early detection.
Moms-to-be are actually at a higher risk of developing gingivitis. Inflamed gums might not seem serious, but if they progress to periodontal disease this leads to heightened risks of delivery complications. Studies have found connections between gum disease and low birth weight, as well as early delivery. More research is necessary to uncover conclusive results – but staying healthy during pregnancy is always key, and that goes for your teeth and gums, too.
If you are early in your pregnancy, schedule an exam with your dentist to plan out an exam schedule for the next 9 months. They may want to see you more often to keep a closer eye on your gums.
Staying cavity- and disease-free during pregnancy may also help ensure good oral health for the baby.
Because the kidneys play such an integral role, when they’re not functioning properly, symptoms emerge in the mouth. Proteins are not fully broken down, which can lead to bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth, or a metallic taste. Dry mouth is another potential symptom.
If your dentist notices worrying symptoms that may point to kidney disease, they can help you seek appropriate treatment.
Our brains have a powerful effect on our body. If you’re experiencing serious anxiety, you’re likely clenching and grinding your teeth. This causes enamel erosion and gum recession, any may contribute to the formation of gum disease (as stress also affects the immune system).
If you or a loved one have an eating disorder, this will also have oral symptoms. Your dentist can help you begin seeking help and rebuilding your health.
If all that isn’t reason enough to schedule your next exam, there’s always the simple fact that we love seeing you! Get in touch today.