You know that good dental hygiene and regular dentist visits are important for your oral health, but did you know that your overall health can also be impacted by what’s happening in your mouth? Not only that, but things that are going on in your mouth can even point doctors and dentists to problems that might be occurring elsewhere in your body, and that’s a major reason why regular checkups with the dentist are so crucial.
Things like gum disease can be a symptom of other problems and a cause of certain conditions. And if your dentist notices a problem during a regular screening, then he or she can recommend a follow-up with another specialist or doctor, and that could lead to a diagnosis of a serious health problem. In fact, regular dental checkups can actually save your life because they can lead to the discovery of life-threatening conditions that require treatment. Today, you’ll learn about three ways a dental screening could save your life.
1. A Screening Could Identify Potential Health Problems Elsewhere in Your Body
Each time you go for a checkup, your dentist will inspect your teeth and gums for signs of infection, gum disease, and tooth decay. While these things can be symptoms of poor oral hygiene, they can also point to more serious health problems in the body, especially if you practice good oral care. For one thing, certain diseases can make you more prone to infections. An oral infection could indicate that there’s something else going on. Moreover, a severe gum disease called periodontitis has also been linked to certain conditions and could cause or exacerbate some health problems. For instance, there’s a link between periodontitis in pregnant women, premature births, and babies with low birth weights.
In other words, your oral health can impact your overall health and vice versa. As such, going for regular checkups is important for your general health, because dental screenings could lead to a diagnosis for a number of diseases, including:
- Head and neck cancers
- Cardiovascular disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Many of these diseases can be debilitating and even deadly if left untreated, making regular dental visits and screenings critical to your overall health.
2. Your Dentist Might Discover the Early Stages of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is an umbrella term used for a number of cancers that affect the mouth and surrounding areas, including the hard and soft palate, tongue, cheeks, lips, throat, sinuses, and floor of the mouth. Oral cancers are treatable when they are caught early, but the problem is that they often go undiagnosed for a long time, and this extended period without intervention can make future treatment more difficult.
Dentists, therefore, are crucial healthcare workers in the early diagnosis of oral cancers because people tend to go see the dentist more often than a regular doctor. Also, the dentist spends a lot more time looking in your mouth than a doctor, which increases the chances that your dentist will notice any early signs of oral or another cancer. If your dentist does notice any symptoms, then he or she can send you for further testing, and this early prevention and treatment could mean the difference between life and death.
Be sure to ask your dentist about getting a potential oral cancer screening if you notice any persistent symptoms, which include sores that won’t heal, colour changes in your mouth, tongue, throat, and jaw pain, loose adult teeth, bleeding sores, growths developing in your mouth, and thickening of the skin.
3. You Could Learn You’ve Got Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that means you stop breathing while you are sleeping. It has a number of serious and potentially fatal side effects, including fatigue, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and more. Beyond that, sleep apnea can also cause chronic sleep deprivation, and this can make you moody, depressed, and irritable, and make it difficult to focus on tasks throughout the day.
But what does sleep apnea have to do with regular dental screenings, you might wonder. One of the most common symptoms related to sleep apnea is bruxism, which means an unconscious grinding or clenching of the teeth that can happen during the day or at night while you’re sleeping. Bruxism takes a big toll on your mouth, particularly in the form of jaw and mouth pain, receding gums, headaches, and broken, chipped, and worn teeth.
Your dentist is well-trained to spot the symptoms of bruxism, and this could lead to a sleep study and a sleep apnea diagnosis. Sleep apnea can be treated with the use of a continuous positive airway pressure device, which is a special mask you wear to sleep to keep your airways open. Getting treatment for sleep apnea could save your life because it will reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and other serious health problems.
Taking care of your mouth and teeth is essential for your oral health, and good oral hygiene will give you the confidence you need to smile wide whenever you want without being self-conscious about the state of your mouth. But oral health can also have a massive impact on your overall health because gum disease can cause and be a symptom of serious health problems. You may notice symptoms, or you might be living with a condition you never suspected.
When you visit your dentist routinely, he or she will screen you for oral health issues that could indicate there’s a more serious health condition involved, and this could potentially save your life. If you live in Bradford and have concerns about your health or that of a family member, book your oral health screening today with Bradford Family Dentistry and make sure that your mouth and body are in the best shape they could possibly be.
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