3 Diseases Your Dentist May Spot Before Your Doctor

3 Diseases Your Dentist May Spot Before Your Doctor

  • Posted: Feb 18, 2015
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Not only limited to oral health, your dentist can also spot emerging medical problems. While they may not be able to treat the disease, dentists can help diagnose conditions early by noticing warning and clues from inside your mouth. Here are three more reasons not to miss your regular dental appointment!

Diabetes

This disease is one of the most obvious to spot from a dentist’s point of view. People with untreated diabetes are more likely to have periodontitis (inflammation around the gums) most prominently alongside other symptoms. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes reduce the gum’s ability to protect against bacterial infection and this can cause abscesses and infection between the gums or on the root of a tooth. If a patient has had no history of periodontitis and good oral health otherwise, gum inflammation can be a strong warning sign of diabetes.

Other symptoms of diabetes include bad breath and an unusually dry mouth. A fruity-smelling breath is the telltale sign of excess production of acetone, one of the by-products of ketenes. Ketenes are the result of fat being used as an alternative source of energy to glucose due to lack of insulin. Diabetes prevents the body from producing or properly using insulin. The disease can also cause dry mouth, which increases plaque build-up due to lack of saliva. Diabetes is considered to be under-diagnosed but dentists are able to detect warnings signs to prompt patients to visit their doctor for a diagnosis.

Heart disease

Recent studies have shown severe periodontal disease to be strongly associated with the risk of heart disease. People with good oral health are less likely to develop heart disease than those with periodontitis. A 2004 study in the Journal of Period ontology suggests that up to 91% of patients with heart disease also have inflamed gums. One theory is that inflammation in the mouth increases inflammation in other parts of the body such as arteries. This potential link means that periodontitis may play a role in heart attacks or strokes.

The good news is that the risk for heart disease can be reduced when the inflammation is treated. Patients with family history of heart attacks or strokes are advised to spend more time on their at-home oral care routine, to prevent periodontitis from being added their other at-risk factors. Brushing teeth and flossing daily help to counteract the bacteria and plaque, which cause the inflammation of gums. Regular dental check-ups are also recommended.

Acid reflux disease

Most people at one time or another experience acid reflux, when acid moves up into the esophagus from the stomach after ring of muscle called the gastro esophageal sphincter fails to close properly. The most common symptom is heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest. If acid reflux symptoms are felt more than twice a week, the problem may be acid reflux disease. Heartburn isn’t the only symptom of acid reflux; it is possible to reflux without even knowing it. Acid reflux also can often happen at night.

The effects of heartburn can be clearly seen in the mouth. The constant uprising of stomach acid can wear away at the enamel of teeth and become thinner from the back. Upper back molars are especially at risk. A 2008 study published in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics points to a third of adults with dental erosion also suffering from gastrointestinal esophageal reflux disease. A persistent sour taste is another indicator, which dentists may pick up on. Reflux disease can cause erosion of the esophagus, which can sometimes lead to esophageal cancer. Acid reflux disease can be treated with medication and lifestyle changes.

Many people are reluctant to visit the dentist, but appointments are beneficial to your overall health as well as for good oral care. A regular check-up could potentially be a lifesaver with dentists being potentially able to spot diabetes, heart disease and acid reflux disease as well as other conditions from oral indicators. A dentists’ work goes far beyond checking the health of a patient’s teeth.

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