5 Non-Dental Medical Issues Your Dentist Might Discover

It’s important to visit your dentist regularly, every six months or so, to keep up on your dental health. But seeing your dentist can also help you keep up on your overall health. Dentists can spot signs of non-dental medical issues in your mouth during an exam. Some of the conditions that exhibit signs within your mouth include oral cancer, HIV, osteoporosis, diabetes and infections.
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Oral Cancer:
Oral cancer is the sixth-most common type of cancer in the U.S., with more than 50,000 Americans diagnosed each year. When you visit your dentist twice a year, they can look for signs of the disease. Most cases appear as red and white lesions on the bottom of your mouth, palate, or on the tongue. Risk factors that increase the chances of oral cancer include heavy alcohol use and smoking. A dentist can perform an oral cancer screening if any warning signs are present.
Some oral conditions may indicate that a patient has HIV. Adults with HIV might exhibit signs like oral warts, lesions, white, red, purple or brown spots on the tongue or in the mouth and other infections. These symptoms alone do not mean that the patient definitely has HIV, although a dentist who spots one or more of these signs might recommend seeing your primary care physician for testing.
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes the weakening of the bones, so your dentist may notice signs like loose teeth or a receding gum line, which can indicate changes in the bone that supports your teeth. When a dentist notices these signs, they can refer you back to your primary care physician for testing.
Signs that may indicate diabetes include loose teeth, dry mouth and receding, dry and bleeding gums. A poor immune system can also make it more challenging for wounds and gum line infections to heal in diabetic patients. Bleeding gums don’t always mean that you have diabetes, this problem can also come from gingivitis and other gum diseases. However, these early warning signs might cause your dentist to encourage you to visit your primary care physician for testing.
If your dentist sees any troubling signs of infection in your mouth they might prescribe antibiotics to fight the issue. You could experience an oral infection after trauma to your mouth, a dental procedure or a number of other problems. Signs of infection can include swelling, redness, fevers, and drainage from the affected area. Infection can spread to other parts of the body, including the lungs and heart, so it’s critical to treat it right away.
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Keeping up with regular dental care comes with many advantages. Your dentist can watch for changes in your mouth, some of which can indicate more serious problems. A dentist might be able to catch problems early, allowing you to seek treatment right away for more successful outcomes. So be sure to come see us regularly!
Your friend,
Dr. Joedi Pasut
Alpine Smiles Family Dentisry
1600 W University Ave #113
Flagstaff, AZ