Your oral health may offer clues to your overall health, and the signs are clear   You expect your dentist to be able to spot cavities, inflammation and more, but did you ever consider that he/she might also be able to notice some more serious health issues? The state of your smile may offer insightRead More

 

by

on February 4, 2015

Five health conditions your dentist can spot

Your oral health may offer clues to your overall health, and the signs are clear

 

You expect your dentist to be able to spot cavities, inflammation and more, but did you ever consider that he/she might also be able to notice some more serious health issues? The state of your smile may offer insight on the rest of your body and possible health-threatening conditions, sometimes even before other symptoms show up.

 

Diabetes

Most people focus on the whiteness of their teeth to judge how healthy their smile is, but your gums also play an important role in determining oral health. In a 2014 study, nearly two-thirds of dentists said they’d refer a patient with periodontitis (inflammation around the gums) for a diabetes evaluation. The reason being that high blood sugar may be as damaging to your oral health as the sweet sugars in a can of soda. That’s because the condition can cause dry mouth, which increases plaque build-up, making people with uncontrolled diabetes more prone to dental problems.

 

Heart disease

Because the mouth is a passageway to the body, people who have chronic gum disease are at the highest risk for having a heart attack, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. Gum disease (called gingivitis in its early stages and periodontal disease in the late stages) is caused by plaque buildup. Some researchers have suggested that gum disease may contribute to heart disease because bacteria from infected gums can increase clot formations, which elevate blood pressure and increase the risk of a heart attack. Signs include loose, shifting or missing teeth, and increased probing depths, where the pockets around the teeth have deepened.

 

Dementia

Is tooth loss linked to memory loss? In recent British research, a lack of teeth was associated with mental decline, while a 2012 study found that older adults with poor dental hygiene were 76 percent more likely to develop dementia. The research is relatively new so the link between the two isn’t perfectly clear. However, a small 2013 study detected Porphyromonas gingivalis (a bacteria associated with gum disease) in the brains of people with dementia, suggesting that it may play a role in the inflammation associated with cognitive decline.

 

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis won’t cause your teeth to decay, but your dentist may be able to spot bone loss in the surrounding bones like the jaw. Normal, healthy bone should be dense at the edges and the interior, but when that’s not the case, the patient is likely to have osteoporosis. A 2013 study in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences found that the thickness of postmenopausal women’s jawbones was correlated with the bone density of their spine. This means that dentists could potentially diagnose osteoporosis in the early stages, which often goes undetected until a fracture occurs.

 

Acid reflux disease

You may feel heartburn most intensely in your chest, but the effects may be more obvious in your mouth. If you have acid reflux disease, the constant uprising of stomach acid could wear away at the enamel on your teeth and literally erode your teeth, making them appear thinner. In a 2008 study review, researchers found that almost 30 percent of adults with dental erosion also had a gastrointestinal esophageal reflux disease, or GERD. It is important to note that erosion can happen even without chest pain, so you may have reflux without even knowing it, making your dentist’s diagnosis very important.

 

Bottom line: your dentist is here to help. Make your dental health a priority and pay attention to your body. Even if you brush and floss regularly, it is important to get your dentist’s professional opinion so you can stay on top of your overall health and make it the best it can be.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Dr. Craig Spodak is a third generation dentist who joined his father’s practice in Delray Beach, Fla. after graduating from Tufts University in 1998. His dream was to change the way patients experience dental care and he developed a new vision for the modern dental practice with a goal to deliver comprehensive dental care in a singular, all inclusive practice. He created one of the world’s only LEED Gold Certified dental facilities, which boasts not only a team of the finest dental and medical professionals from all disciples of the field, but also a holistic environment that comforts patients. Dr. Craig is an expert lecturer for Invisalign and Spodak Dental Group is one of the few Top 1 Percent providers of Invisalign in the world.


You Might also like

Spodak Dental Group

How Does Diabetes Affect Oral Health?

If you are diabetic, or know someone who is, you know how debilitating diabetes is for the body Not only is it a stress on bodily organs, including eyes, nerves, kidneys and heart, but the disease can also cause oral health issues. November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and is a great time to shineRead More

Do I Need LANAP?

Have you been diagnosed with periodontal disease but don’t know exactly what that means? Dr. Tiffany Dudley is here to help! Dr. Dudley is dedicated to helping patients educate themselves about the disease and also which treatment options are available, so together they can make the best choice moving forward.  What is Periodontal Disease? PeriodontalRead More

Three Reasons Why You Shouldn’t “Snooze” Sleep Apnea

For many people, getting a good night’s sleep is something that happens naturally and without a second thought. You’re tired, you fall asleep, enjoy sleeping, and wake up rested and ready to tackle the day. For other people, sleep isn’t restful at all. While they might think they’re getting the sleep they need, they areRead More

Five Reasons to Schedule a Cleaning Appointment Before School Starts

While this school season is a bit different because of the coronavirus (Back to school? Virtual schooling at home? A combination of both?) it’s still important to keep up with your child’s cleaning routine! So when you’re planning for school clothes, reading lists, pencils and sports gear, make sure to schedule a dental cleaning, too. Read More

When is the Best Time to Have Wisdom Teeth Removed?

If you’re a teenager or 20-something, summer months might be the best time for traveling, relaxing or getting a head start for the next school semester. But, it’s also the best time to get your wisdom teeth removed! Not only can seeing your dentist during the summer months be a proactive measure that can saveRead More

Straightening teeth Spodak

Is Invisalign Right for Me?

You see your smile every time you look in the mirror or glance at a picture of yourself, and think about your smile whenever you eat a meal or introduce yourself. To say that “your first impression is key” is an understatement, so how do you feel about yours? We understand that you want yourRead More