The condition of our teeth does not only depict our oral hygiene, but also our health. During a dental exam dentists might diagnose several illnesses, including those of the bones, heart, blood sugar, digestion or even serious autoimmune diseases, by merely looking at our teeth and oral tissues. The early detection of these is key to a complete and quick recovery, which is why regular dental check-ups are vital.
Type 2 Diabetes and Low Bone Density
Type 2 diabetes reduces the ability of our immune system to fight pathogens. Given that the mouth is the gateway to our bodies, signs of this deficiency appear there first. The result is often periodontitis, which is the painful inflammation of the gums. Alarming symptoms can be swollen, bleeding, receding gums. Periodontitis must be taken seriously, considering it can cause tooth or jaw bone loss. If other risk factors are also present, it is always recommended to run a simple blood test to rule out diabetes.
Receding gums and loose teeth might also forecast that our bone density is low. It is also common that previously perfectly fitting dentures become loose all of a sudden. Low bone density might lead to osteoporosis, the symptoms of which can be recognized by a simple dental X-ray. After the diagnosis taking sufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D can reverse the process, and prevent osteoporosis.
The signs of acid reflux in the oral cavity are also quite conspicuous for the trained eye. If in permanent contact with the teeth, gastric acid eats through the enamel, revealing the dentin. Temperature sensitive, cavity-prone teeth and halitosis are the most common results of that process. The patient might not even know about their condition, because gastroesophageal reflux sometimes happens only during sleep. Tooth erosion, however, reveals it instantly, and with the right diagnosis, treatment can begin.
Symptoms Connected to Diet and Nutrition
Eroded teeth might also be a red flag for bulimia. As a result of frequent emesis, gastric acid is able to eat the enamel off the teeth, just like in the case of acid reflux. But teeth can also disclose evidence of another eating disorder, anorexia. Symptoms include weak teeth due to lack of nutrients, resulting in tooth decay, periodontitis and canker sores. The dentist might fix these problems, but for a full recovery patients with these symptoms are recommended to seek professional help.
Celiac disease might also produce characteristic symptoms in the mouth. Tooth discoloration with brown, yellow or white spots, and grooves on the surface of incisors and molars mostly gives it away instantly. Frequently reappearing canker sores, a smooth, red tongue, and dryness of the mouth might also be warning signs of celiac disease.
Autoimmune diseases are reactions of our immune system to the tissues and organs in the body. These diseases can occur anywhere, and cannot be treated, only controlled. Some of the symptoms occur in the oral cavity; hence, they can be detected during a simple dental exam.
Sjögren’s syndrome attacks the salivary glands, which causes dryness of the mouth among others. The saliva might become thick or isn’t produced at all, making swallowing extremely difficult. Lack of saliva also affects taste, speech, and the patient becomes prone to fungal infections, as well.
Hashimoto’s disease also affects swallowing. The illness causes the inflammation and abnormal enlargement of the thyroid. The swelling in the throat might get so big that it makes swallowing for patients problematic. Scleroderma is responsible for the abnormal growth of connective tissue in the skin and blood vessels in the gastrointestinal area, which might also create difficulties with swallowing.
Crohn’s disease is present in the whole gastrointestinal tract, including the oral cavity. The symptoms include swelling of the gums and lips, and ulcers in the mouth. These can be the primary markers of the disease; therefore, they play a vital role in early recognition. Reoccurring mouth ulcers might also indicate that the patient deals with Systemic lupus, another autoimmune disease.
Regular visits to the dentist are not only about healthy teeth and oral hygiene, but also about our overall wellbeing. Visit Forest & Ray Dental for your check-up, and let our top-class dentists take care of your health.