It’s no secret that preventative care is key to good health. That’s why yearly physicals with your primary care physician are encouraged, along with bi-annual cleanings and x-rays with your general dentist. But did you know that oral health and overall health are linked?
Many disorders and diseases can impact the health of your teeth, mouth, and gums. Making sure to visit your regular dentist every six months for a dental cleaning and a checkup is a vital part of maintaining your oral health.
However, your dentist is able to detect a lot more than just dental problems. He or she can also spot the signs and symptoms of non-dental medical problems during your routine oral exam. This added layer of prevention can help you detect non-dental medical issues sooner, giving you more time to get the medical help you need to treat the problem and restore your overall health.
Curious as to what kind of non-dental medical problems your dentist can detect at a routine visit? Read on to learn more about the connection between your oral health and overall health, and discover the clues your mouth holds about your health.
The Non-Dental Medical Problems Your Dentist Can Detect
If you suspect a non-dental medical problem, it’s always a good idea to contact your primary care physician. But sometimes, our body shows signs of a problem before our brains can register that something is wrong. Below you’ll find descriptions of the medical problems linked to oral health exams.
During your regular dental checkup, your dentist will look for red or white lesions in the mouth. These lesions, among other things, may point to oral cancer. Your risk for oral cancer is increased if you smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco products.
Your dentist will also look for any signs of infection in your mouth, which includes severe pain, swelling, redness around the affected area, surface that feels hot to the touch, fevers, and drainage from the wound or tooth. You’re especially susceptible to infections following a dental procedure or dental trauma. If an infection is suspected, your dentist will prescribe antibiotics to treat it. Catching an infection early is important because it can spread to other parts of the body, like the heart and lungs.
The dental symptoms that point to diabetes include tender, bleeding, or receding gum tissue, dry mouth, and loosening teeth. These symptoms could also be from gum disease, but it’s important that you get a blood glucose test to be sure.
The most common way stress presents in an oral exam is with signs of bruxism, or the subconscious grinding or clenching of the teeth, often during sleep. These symptoms can include earaches or toothaches with no apparent cause, frequent headaches, jaw pain, or a clicking/popping noise when moving the jaw.
If you suffer from an eating disorder or aren’t getting sufficient nutrition, your dentist may be able to tell. These symptoms can include bleeding gums, dry mouth, and erosion on the front teeth. Poor nutrition can also weaken the tooth enamel, making you more vulnerable to dental cavities and tooth decay.
Why Prevention Matters
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In addition to being important to your oral health, making regular trips to your general dentist can also help catch symptoms of other medical conditions. Make sure you visit your dentist every six months for a dental cleaning and for a checkup.
Our team here at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado is dedicated to keeping your smile healthy and pain-free. With two convenient locations in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, the care you need is only a call away. Contact us today to schedule your evaluation!