This week, we want to teach you about some of the warning signs that your dentist looks for during your oral examination, which may reveal telling information about your overall health. In a way, you mouth can serve as a window into your entire body and provide some of the first warning signs of certain disease. According to the American Academy of Oral Systemic Health, the connection between general medicine and dentistry is vital to help save lives. You dentist performs a thorough oral health evaluation at every appointment as a way to screen for certain diseases that can present themselves in the oral cavity. It is also important that you look for some of these changes and warning signs and notify your dentist immediately if something doesn’t seem right.
At Ponte Vedra Complete Dentistry, we enjoy teaching our patients about all things dentistry and medicine. One of the ways that we regularly educate our patients is with our weekly blogs. We want you to learn some of the warning signs for systemic diseases, which can sometimes present themselves in the mouth. If you are looking for a new dentist, look no further than Ponte Vedra Complete Dentistry. We are always accepting new patients from in and around the Ponte Vedra Beach Communities. If you have any additional questions or would like to schedule a consultation, please contact us at any time electronically or call (904)285-7711.
ONE. Overall Stress Level
Almost 70% of all people who grind their teeth suffer from stress or anxiety. Your dentist can usually examine your teeth and jaw muscles to determine if you are clenching your teeth or grinding them regularly. Many times, this clenching and grinding can take place while you are sleeping and you may not be aware of it. Some of the most common habits that increase the amount of tooth grinding include excessive smoking, caffeine intake, illicit drug use, and alcohol consumption. If your teeth are worn down where they touch each other or sharpened in areas that were once flat, you may be clenching or grinding. To reduce the overall impact of your grinding habits and stop the damage to your teeth, your dentist can create a custom mouthguard. This mouthguard, which is usually worn at nighttime, can decrease the damage that clenching and grinding has on your teeth.
TWO. Medications That You May Be Taking
There are many common medications that people take that can lead to symptoms of dry mouth. Do you have trouble eating a cracker or dry piece of toast without having water to drink with it? This may be a sign that you suffer from dry mouth, or xerostomia. Many prescription and over-the-counter drugs have this side effect, including antidepressants, pain medications, allergy medications, cold medications, high blood pressure drugs, and asthmatic drugs. Your dentist may ask you about the medications that you are taking if he or she notices signs of dry mouth. People with dry mouth are more prone to develop cavities. To treat this disorder, sip water throughout the day and chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free lozenges.
THREE. Diabetes or Anemia
Your dentist and dental hygienist can notice warning signs of various diseases by examining your gums. If your gums bleed easily and you have bad breath despite good oral hygiene, you may be suffering from periodontal disease. Many patients who have periodontal disease may also have undiagnosed diabetes. Very pale, white-ish gums can also alert your healthcare provider that you may suffer from anemia.
FOUR. Eating Disorders or GERD
Throwing up frequently, which is common in bulimic patients, can have devastating effects on the enamel of your teeth. The acid in vomit can cause the inner surface of your teeth to wear away and may cause tooth sensitivity and possible need for root canals or extractions. Similarly, GERD, also known as acid reflux, can have similar effects on the backs of the teeth. If you suffer from either of these disorders, frequent dental visits are recommended to prevent severe erosion from occurring. For more information on the dental implications of bulimia, please watch the following video from the American Dental Association.
FIVE. Oral Cancer
Do you have mouth sores or lumps and bumps that just won’t seem to go away or are growing bigger? This may be a sign of oral cancer and you should have it examined immediately. Oral cancer is a serious disease, with a 5-year survival rate only slightly larger than 50%. If you have any areas in your mouth that concern you, be sure to have your dentist check this area as soon as possible. Oral cancer that is caught during the early stages has a much better prognosis.
We hope that you learned something new from today’s blog and encourage you to regularly examine your mouth for any of these warning signs. If you have any unanswered questions or would like to schedule your first appointment with Dr. Harth or Dr. Townsend, please contact us at any time or call (904)285-7711.