Regular visits to the dentist are not only important to your oral health, they can also alert you to underlying medical conditions. Here are four ailments your dentist may pick up on when you're sitting in the chair.
Patients with undiagnosed diabetes often present with advanced gum disease and oral infections. Some of the most common oral health problems include:
- Fungal infections on the tongue or in the back of the throat
- Tooth decay, even with proper care
- Lesions in the mouth that are slow to heal
- Dry mouth, frequently a cause of consistent bad breath
Be sure your dentist knows you are a diabetic so they can be sure to look for an increase in diabetes-related complications.
Like most cancers, early detection is key to increasing the odds of survival. Your dentist may pick up on subtle changes to your oral health that you may not necessarily notice. The tongue, floor of the mouth under the tongue, and the lips are the most common sites of oral cancer.
- Sores that won't heal
- White or red spots in the month that don't go away
- Unusual bleeding
- Throat pain or a feeling of something being stuck in the throat
- Dentures suddenly not fitting properly
- Jaw and ear pain
- Voice changes
A dentist or hygienist can recognize some of these changes, and prompt you to see your regular physician for further testing.
Recurrent thrush from Candidiasis, a fungal yeast infection, manifests itself with white patches, typically on the roof of the mouth. Painful herpes blisters are caused by an incurable virus. Medication is available to lessen the severity and duration of the outbreaks, however. Hairy leukoplakia is a whitish, hairy growth on the tongue that cannot be simply brushed away. Aphthous ulcers, or canker sores, are tiny, painful sores that can affect the tongue, inner lips, and the sides of the cheeks.
Repeated problems with any of these ailments may not necessarily be indicative of the HIV virus; it may just be a nutritional deficiency. It does require further investigation, however.
Periodontal disease may be a precursor to heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. Swollen, red, tender bleeding gums that have pulled away from your teeth can be a sign it's time to get a thorough physical. Scientists are still uncertain as to the cause of the connection.
Dental care is essential, not only to a happy, healthy smile, but to providing clues to any underlying medical conditions you may be unaware of. To learn more, contact a company like Legacy Dental Arts with any questions or concerns you have.