And do I really regular dental check-ups?
In the article 'Do I really need to see the dentist?' I described the important dental reasons to see the dentist.
There are also very important medical reasons to see the dentist regularly, and make us a part of your overall healthcare team.
Dentists can pick up the dental diseases that are linked to serious medical conditions.
Untreated gum disease significantly increases the risk of a person developing:
Cardiovascular disease (including heart attack),
Lung disease, and
Untreated gum disease is also associated with greater risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Treating gum disease helps prevent these diseases and plays a role in improving their treatment outcomes when combined with medical care.
Dentists can pick up medical diseases, and sometimes we are able to do this before the doctor picks up the telltale signs.
Dentists are highly trained to look for small details, and we get a very powerful 'snap-shot' of your health through your mouth. Dentists can detect:
Signs of anaemia through pale coloured gums,
Nutritional deficiencies revealed by poor healing, aggressive tooth decay, thin skin in the mouth and/or recurrent ulcerations,
Signs of gastric reflux through patterns of acid erosion on the teeth,
We can also 'blow the whistle' on potential stomach ulcers. There are times when dentists have encouraged the medical tests that reveal gastric infections with helicobacter,
Leukaemia, which can manifest in gum bleeding and swelling,
Changes in skin colour associated with poor or deteriorating heart health,
Early signs of dementia, Parkinson's disease and other neuromuscular conditions when oral hygiene standards change,
Autoimmune diseases that manifest as a dry mouth,
Diabetes through changes in the smell of the breath and gum inflammation.
Dentists can detect these important medical conditions, sometimes before serious symptoms develop. This is especially so when we get to know you well.
Dentists have an absolutely essential role in screening for oral cancer.
Oral cancer is a devious condition - too often it starts in the darkest, most concealed crevices in the mouth. It is an essential part of our service to examine you for this condition, because no one looks in your mouth as closely as we do.
Dentists have an important part to play in the early detection of health conditions.
Regular check-ups build a relationship with the dentist that serves your total health needs, allowing for prompt diagnosis and better medical management outcomes.