Making the decision whether to consult a dentist or doctor is usually simple enough: dentists for mouth problems, and doctors for everything else. However, what you may not know is that your dentist knows a lot more about your general health than you're probably prepared to give him/her credit for. Your mouth can reveal a startling amount of information about the rest of your body, and listed below are a few additional ways that your dentist may be able to keep you healthy aside from scraping your pearly whites clean.
Jaw & Neck
One particularly common problem in adulthood that people can develop is temporo-mandibular disorder, also known as TMD or "clicking jaw syndrome". This is a condition that can arise in anyone at any point in their adult lives, and can be caused by frequent grinding, clenching of the jaw muscles, and high stress levels. Whilst usually not life-threatening, clicking jaw can still be an unpleasant condition to have—with some common complaints being discomfort during eating, prolonged headaches, and tight, pain-riddled muscles in the neck and jaw. However, if you do begin to experience the symptoms of clicking jaw, it is your dentist who will be able to help you—not your doctor.
Sufferers of TMD often experience no pain within the mouth itself, and oral health may appear to look absolutely fine on the surface. Yet whilst it may seem to make more sense to visit your general practitioner, all they will do is refer you to a good dentist for treatment. TMD is caused by misalignment and friction of the jaw bone, and the best way to rectify this issue is to remove teeth within the mouth to allow for realignment. Dentists may also prescribe mouth-pieces for the patient to bite down on to help re-position the jaw, or may even add additional artificial teeth to help take pressure off the joints. It may seem jaw-dropping, but if you start developing tight muscles in the neck and jaw, then you're much better heading over to your dentist for treatment as opposed to your GP.
Gum disease (recognized esoterically as periodontitis) can be an extremely embarrassing condition to have. Not only can it make people feel self-conscious of their smile due to discoloration of the gum lining, it can also cause bleeding in the mouth and create an unpleasant aroma. While visiting your dentist is sure to help tackle the immediate issue of gum disease, owning the condition may suggest that there other health problems connected to the pancreas. According to a 2014 study, over 60% of dentists would refer their patients with periodontitis for diabetes evaluation.
Gum disease can affect, and is affected by, blood sugar levels in the body. It is these inconsistent levels that cause diabetes due to the pancreas' inability to produce insulin – a vital hormone that helps control blood sugar levels in the body. Dentists are often able to identify diabetes being a possibility when they take a look at a patient with periodontitis, which is why it is extremely important to visit your dentist immediately if you ever experience the symptoms of gum disease. Not only will this help to rectify any embarrassing oral health problems, it may also alert you to additional issues in the pancreas that might have otherwise gone unnoticed for a dangerous amount of time.
Anemia is a condition of the blood which can take various forms, one of which being that of extreme iron-deficiency. Iron is an element in the body that is used to create red blood cells, and this particular type of anemia causes a depletion of iron in the blood, meaning that oxygen is not transported around the body at the ideal rate. This can make sufferers significantly weak, tired, and dizzy on a day-to-day basis, and dentists are actually able to diagnose this condition simply by conducting an ordinary oral check-up.
When people are lacking in iron, their gums can lose their natural red tint, and instead adopt a paler, pinker shade as a lack of oxygen is moved around the body. If your gums look particularly pale, your dentist will be able to identify the issue immediately, and after asking you a few questions to confirm their suspicions, will then refer you to a doctor who can provide the appropriate course of treatment to restore iron levels in the body. For more information, contact Bruce Stevens For Everything Dental.Share
15 April 2015
As you age, it can become harder to take care of your teeth. Motor challenges can make it hard to floss, while memory issues may make it easy to overlook brushing. Whether you are a senior looking for solutions to some of the common dental problems or a senior with specific questions about cavities or oral surgery, you have come to the right place. In this blog, I am going to touch on a range of topics related to seniors and oral health. This is the type of resource I wish my mum would have had access to in her senior years, and I hope you enjoy having access to it during yours. I appreciate you reading my posts.