Did you know that the Adult’s Oral Health & Well-Being Survey found that 42% of Americans do not visit the dentist at least once a year? While bi-yearly appointments can be difficult to squeeze in amid everyday life, they are crucial to your health. In addition to being a part of a proper oral hygiene routine, these appointments allow your dentist to address any non-dental issues that may be present. Here are five serious health concerns your dentist can find first.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 100 million adults are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes in America. This staggering statistic is even more alarming since symptoms of Type 2 diabetes can develop so gradually that it often goes undiagnosed and untreated. However, your dentist can be the first to notice warning signs that could lead to early intervention. If your dentist notices loose teeth, a dry mouth, or receding, bleeding gums, then they may encourage you to undergo a blood glucose check with your primary care physician.
With over 30,000 new cases reported each year, oral cancer is now the sixth most common type of cancer in the United States. Information provided by the American Society of Clinical Oncology states that the 5-year survival rate for those diagnosed with oral cancer is 65%, but early intervention and treatment is key. Therefore, your dentist may request an oral cancer screening if they find any red or white lesions in your mouth.
Between career demands, your family’s schedule, and trying to maintain a social life, our everyday lives are no stranger to stress. While widely known for its negative effects on your mental state and heart health, stress can wreak just as much havoc on your teeth. Often subconsciously, those who experience this anxiety will manifest it through grinding their teeth (professionally referred to as bruxism). Over time, the immense pressure this places on your teeth can lead to dental damage (like chips or cracks). If your dentist notices signs of bruxism, they may recommend a custom mouthguard for you to wear at night. Also, they may urge you to implement some effective stress-relief tactics into your daily routine.
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes your bones to become weak and brittle. Although it largely impacts post-menopausal women, everyone is susceptible to it. Therefore, your dentist will check for any loose teeth or a receding gum line, since both of these symptoms can point to changes in the bone that supports your teeth. If they see anything concerning, they will request that you visit your primary care physician for a bone density test.
For those that suffer from bulimia or anorexia, keeping their poor nutrition hidden is a top priority. However, the side effects of these conditions can severely damage your teeth. Common symptoms dentists look for include: dry mouth, bleeding gums, and erosion to the enamel of your teeth. If your dentist does notice any of these conditions, they will speak to you privately about treatment options and how to preserve your teeth.
While spotting and treating cavities is important to your dentist, that isn’t the only role they play in preserving your health. Therefore, it is important to prioritize your bi-yearly visits to ensure that both your wellbeing and your smile are in pristine condition.