You may have heard in the past that your optometrist is a great first line of defense against diseases that are more successfully treated when identified early. But did you know that regular visits to your dentist can be just as important when it comes to screening for these potentially life threatening conditions?
Your mouth is one of the major gateways to your body, and warning signs and symptoms can often show up there first. To show you what we mean, today we’re looking at a few conditions and warning signs that your dentist might pick up on before anyone else.
1. Heart Disease
Wondering what one of the most serious conditions that your dentist might be the first to spot is? Heart disease. Inflamed gums and loose teeth can be a big red flag when it comes to identifying issues with your ticker, and according to the American Heart Association, individuals that receive biannual dental checkups and cleanings are 24% less likely to have a heart attack and have a 14% lower risk of suffering from a stroke.
Why? Well, for starters, conditions like periodontitis can lead to bacteria traveling from your mouth to your heart, contributing to coronary heart disease. Bacteria can also lead to increased plaque build-up in your arteries and promote the formation of deadly blood clots. One study showed that individuals with inflamed or infected pockets around their gums were over 50% more likely to suffer a heart attack.
Poor oral health isn’t just a warning sign for dementia – it can be a factor in causing it! Just like your heart, bacteria causing an infection in your mouth can make its way throughout your body, including causing inflammation in your brain. The forgetfulness and departure from daily routines caused by dementia only serve to make the problem worse, leading to a decline in oral and overall health.
One of the most common health issues for diabetics? Gum disease. Bleeding or inflamed gums and loose teeth are a big warning that an individual might be diabetic. The problem is compounded by the fact that another common issue with diabetes is a slower healing time, leading to chronic issues.
4. Eating Disorders
It’s common for people with anorexia or bulimia to attempt to hide their condition – but dentists can be one of the first to spot the warning signs of an eating disorder. One of the major red flags is loose teeth and bleeding gums, which can be caused by poor nutrition.
Additionally, erosion on the insides of the teeth may be a sign of forced vomiting in a bulimic person, since stomach acid wears away at the enamel and makes teeth more sensitive.
5. Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Significant erosion on the enamel from the teeth, especially on the molars, may be a red flag for Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease, or GERD. This condition is similar to common acid reflux but is especially prominent at night, which means you may not even realize you’re suffering from it.
GERD, however, isn’t just heartburn – chronic reflux can also erode the lining of your esophagus, leading to permanent damage and even increasing your risk of esophageal cancer. But with regular dental screenings, the warning signs of GERD can be identified and treatment can be sought early.Read more →