Your dentist knows all your secrets. No, not those secrets. When your dentist looks inside your mouth, they learn secrets about your health. You may wonder what health secrets they see. You will find it intriguing to read what, precisely, your things your mouth reveals about your health.
The battle inside your mouth
Your mouth hosts over 700 kinds of microbes. Microbes are assorted bacteria, viruses, and fungus. Some microbes in your mouth are beneficial, while others are harmful, causing tooth decay or gum disease. The harmful microbes create plaque, a transparent film that sticks to your teeth. There’s a continual battle going on inside your mouth between the good and bad bacteria. The good microbes work hard to slow down the growth of the bad ones, plus they help you digest your food.
But poor mouth hygiene strengthens the harmful microbes. Eating sugary foods or drinks feeds these microbes, causing their little community to flourish and spread around your mouth.
These microbes turn the sugar into acid, which attacks your teeth surfaces, causing plaque build-up and damage to your teeth. Regular brushing and flossing limit the growth of the harmful microbes, keeping them from getting out of control.
Good mouth hygiene can prevent these conditions.
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Cracked teeth
- Receding gums
- Bad breath
What your mouth reveals to your dentist
Your mouth is a good indicator of your health. Some dentists say a healthy mouth reveals a healthy body. Here is a list of 10 conditions your dentist can diagnose from looking in your mouth.
Your dentist can see evidence of diabetes while checking out your teeth and mouth. If you have diabetes, you’re more likely to have a gum disease called periodontal disease, which is an infection in your gums and bone around your teeth. Gum disease causes pain, constant halitosis or bad breath, and sometimes chewing problems. Diabetes can also cause the following:
- Dry mouth-lack of saliva which causes sores, tooth decay, and infection
- Thrush-a painful fungal disease that makes white sores in your mouth
- Increases the amount of glucose you have in your mouth which cause bacteria to grow
Studies found there is a clear link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease. Your dentist could be the first health professional to tell you the risks of gum disease associated with heart disease. You may not realize the long-term effects on your heart from gum disease. You may eat well and exercise. But if you have poor mouth hygiene, you’re still at risk for cardiovascular disease.
This infection attacks the lining of your heart chambers or heart valves. It arises when bacteria or fungi from another area of your body, like the mouth, spreads into your bloodstream and attacks certain parts of your heart. Your dentist may see that you have an infection in your mouth. Their diagnosis plus other symptoms could mean you have endocarditis. Other symptoms include
- Joint pain
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
If your dentist notices a mouth infection, contact your doctor right away so you can be checked for endocarditis.
Your dentist can see canker sores in your mouth. These little round white sores appear on your lips or the inside of your mouth. Sometimes you get them on your gums, tongue, and even the roof of your mouth. They’re not big, but they are painful. Doctors don’t know the cause of canker sores, but sometimes they indicate you’re under stress or have a weak immune system, or you’re going through hormonal changes. Studies show that sometimes canker sores point to deficiencies in your body, such as low iron or a vitamin B deficiency. Canker sores can also point to injuries to the lining of your mouth. Ask your dentist how to treat canker sores.
Open sores on the inside of your mouth may alert your dentist that you have HIV. HIV is an often-deadly virus that attacks your immune system. Left untreated, HIV kills off cells of your immune system, so you’re more prone to infection and cancer. The open sores called aphthous ulcers are not contagious, nor life-threatening, but they hurt. They make eating painful. Thirty-two to forty-five percent of those who have HIV develop these painful sores.
Bad breath doesn’t seem like that big problem, but it could mean you have digestive issues. Doctors can test your breath to see if you have a bacterial infection called Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori in your stomach. Bad breath is a common symptom of this infection. It also causes peptic ulcers, stomach inflammation, and even stomach cancer. H. pylori infections are treated with two different antibiotics taken at once.
Many studies found a connection between bone loss and loose teeth. If you have osteoporosis, you’re three times more likely to lose teeth than other women who don’t have the disease. Osteoporosis is a disease that impacts your bone density. It causes your bones to be more porous and frail, making you at risk for breaks and fractures. There are often no symptoms until you break a bone. There are treatments you can get for osteoporosis to help your bones. But one group of medications for osteoporosis can cause osteonecrosis of your jaw, which cuts off the blood supply to your jaw. This condition is a dangerous side effect.
You can keep your bones healthy by following these suggestions.
- Eat a diet with lots of calcium and vitamin D
- Try weight-bearing exercises or walking or dancing to keep your bones healthy and strong.
- Don’t smoke
- Don’t drink too much alcohol.
- Regular dental checkups
Some studies indicate that periodontitis may lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers think that inflammation from the periodontitis is what may cause AD. Gum disease or periodontal disease occurs when sticky plaque builds up between your teeth and gums. Bacteria living in the plaque grows and causes inflammation. Inflammation makes the gums deteriorate, recess, and then you can lose teeth. Also, periodontitis causes other diseases, diabetes, and heart problems. You can fight periodontal disease by following good daily mouth and teeth care.
- Brushing your teeth twice a day-Brush your teeth in the mornings and at night to lower plaque growth and kill bacteria. Don’t forget to brush your tongue, too.
- Floss-Floss at least once a day to remove food particles between your teeth.
- Mouthwash-Yep, it’s not just for bad breath. Use mouthwash to kill the plaque and get rid of anything you missed brushing and flossing.
Some autoimmune diseases produce symptoms in your mouth, which your dentist may notice. Some of these symptoms include
- Bumps or sores-If you have little bumps on your gums may indicate inflammation related to an autoimmune disease.
- Trouble swallowing or change in your speech-Autoimmune disease causes your glands to not make as much saliva as usual. This decreased production affects your swallowing and speech due to dryness.
- Jaw pain-Many people with rheumatoid arthritis have jaw pain.
- Low lip swelling-If you notice your lower lip swelling or more prominent than usual, this could be a sign of lupus.
Your tongue can tip off your dentist that you’re iron deficient or anemic. Iron deficiency is a sign of low hemoglobin, which means you’re low in red blood cells. Red blood cells move oxygen throughout your entire body. Indications that you’re iron deficient can show up on your tongue. Studies suggest that if tongue changes of color and texture are symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia.
Symptoms of being iron deficient include the following:
- Change in your tongue’s color-either pale or bright red
- Trouble chewing, talking, or swallowing.
- Pain in your tongue
- Swelling in your tongue
- Tenderness in your tongue
- Loss of texture of your tongue
Good mouth hygiene practices
Follow these simple practices to keep your mouth healthy and free of bacteria or plaque growth.
- Consider a new toothbrush-If possible, brush your teeth with an electric toothbrush. Regular toothbrushes are good, but they aren’t as effective as an electric one. The fast movement helps you clean more in-depth and in harder to reach places between your teeth.
- Brush your tongue-Many people neglect to brush their tongue, but plaque builds up there too. Brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth.
- Choose a fluoride toothpaste-Flouride toothpaste is the best to fight tooth decay, and it leaves a protective barrier on your teeth.
- Flossing-Flossing should be done twice a day. Some people prefer the little handheld dental flossers to floss their teeth.
- Dental appointments-You should see your dentist twice a year for cleanings and checkups. No one loves going to the dentist, but it’s excellent preventative care so that you won’t end up with cavities and other problems. Your dentist can also recommend products and treatments like clear aligners if you need to correct the alignment of your teeth.
Your good health is no secret to your dentist. They’re trained to find conditions that affect not only your mouth, teeth, and gums but your entire body. They’re experts at what’s going on in your mouth and will let you know if you are at risk for gum disease, tooth decay, or receding gums.
Follow their directions regarding good mouth hygiene. It can help not only your teeth but your entire body to stay healthier. So, pull out your floss, toothbrush, and mouthwash today for better oral hygiene plus a healthy body… and you won’t have to worry about your dentist knowing your secrets.