Your dentist isn’t just looking at the health of your teeth and gums. Your mouth is literally a window into your overall health — and dentists are often the first to see early signs of more serious diseases. Here are three of the serious diseases that a dental exam can spot:
- Oral cancer is one of the most-common cancers in America —30,000 new cases are reported in America every year. Oral cancer shows up as white and red lesions, usually on the tongue, the floor of the mouth, and the soft palate tissues in the back of the mouth. A dental visit can help catch signs of oral cancer in its earliest stages, when survival rates are more than 80 percent.
- Crohn’s Disease is an inflammatory bowel disorder that can cause a host of serious problems, including severe pain and dramatic weight loss. More than 20 percent of people with Crohn’s develop lesions in their mouth that may even precede abdominal symptoms such as cramps and diarrhea. Dentists can see early signs such as swollen lips and ulcers on the inside of cheeks.
- Diabetes – people with diabetes are far more likely to get gum disease. Bleeding, receding, dry gums, dry mouth, and wiggly teeth are all typical oral symptoms of diabetes that dentists spot first.
To read more on the link between dentistry and health problems, please see the Reader’s Digest feature “Shocking Diseases Dentists Find First” and an excellent guide on dentistry for seniors on the health website, A Place for Mom.