Regular dental visits are important not only for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, but also for detecting other diseases and health conditions. Many diseases have initial signs and symptoms in the mouth. Furthermore, medications for common illnesses can cause side effects in the mouth. Your dentist plays an integral part in your health care. Dentists are often the first to detect oral manifestations of a disease. It is also important to keep your dentist apprised of any medical conditions you have, or medications you are taking, so that he or she can treat you safely.
Some examples of diseases that present in the mouth include:
- Diabetic patients may experience increased gum disease and bone loss.
- Smokers are at an increased risk for losing their teeth to gum disease, as well as cancers of the mouth and tongue.
- A red tongue and a burning mouth may be an indication of anemia
- Medications for anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure may cause dry mouth, a painful condition that can increase one's risk for cavities.
- Complications of radiation and chemotherapy for cancer also include dry mouth and increased risk of cavities.
Many other diseases such as lupus have oral manifestations. Early results of recent research shows a connection between gum disease (periodontal disease) and systemic diseases such as heart disease, pre-term low birth weight babies, osteoporosis, and respiratory diseases.
Become active in maintaining your oral health and overall health by practicing good oral hygiene (brushing thoroughly at least two times per day and flossing daily) and maintaining regular preventive dental visits. Keep all your health care providers informed if you experience any changes in your oral health and your overall health status.
This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission.