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How a dental check-up may save your life

Most diseases of the teeth and gums can be cured.  At the same time, there are other diseases of the body which affect oral health and can be detected in a single visit to the dentist. You will be amazed to find out that a regular dental check-up may end up saving your life.

Here are some of the diagnoses a dentist can make:

  1. Heart disease.

Tooth loss can be an important clue, according to a study by researchers at the University of Minnesota. A link between heart disease and some dental problems has been established by previous studies, but more recent ones suggest that bacteria which cause gum infection can also inflame blood vessels. Early signs of heart disease include bleeding gums, bad taste in the mouth, bad breath or abscesses. In more advanced stages, the teeth weaken and begin to fall out.

  1. High blood pressure

Without visible symptoms, hypertension often goes undetected, but can lead to strokes, heart attacks and kidney disease. Inflammation of the gums is a good indicator of hypertension. In North America, many dentists monitor the blood pressure of their patients. 

  1. Premature birth

Gum disease during pregnancy can increase a woman’s risk of giving birth prematurely, as it increases the secretion of prostaglandins (the hormones that induce labor). In such cases, a simple dental check-up may reduce the risk of giving birth prematurely. A study published in the Journal of Periodontology showed that properly treating gum disease can substantially reduce the risk of premature birth.

  1. Diabetes

Gum disease, infections, hard-to-heal ulcers, a swollen tongue or dry mouth may be indications of diabetes, diagnosed or not. Diabetics are prone to canker sores, which a dentist can often easily identify.

  1. Pregnancy

Bleeding or swollen gums may be the first signs of pregnancy. Hormonal changes in expectant mothers make their gums swell more easily, a condition known as pregnancy-induced gingivitis. Pregnant women are encouraged to go to the dentist for treatment.

  1. Eating Disorders

If you suffer from bulimia or anorexia, you can’t hide it from the dentist, because these diseases destroy the tooth enamel. Although eating disorders are most common in young women, the symptoms are sometimes seen in men as well.

  1. Avitaminosis, cirrhosis or HIV infection

A swollen tongue, an unusual sensation in the mouth or a strange taste can be caused by deficiencies of vitamin B, iron or zinc. If your tongue hurts, you may not have any concerns, but this may indicate a lack of vitamins that are quite difficult to identify. The sensation of pain can be an indication of more serious problems – liver cirrhosis or even HIV infection. Ulcers that are difficult to heal may also indicate herpes, canker sores, tuberculosis or syphilis.

  1. Vascular diseases

Dry mouth or a strange taste may be signs of anemia. Your doctor may also tell you that you have a blockage of your salivary glands or diabetes. Swollen gums may be a sign of leukemia.

  1. Oral cancer

If you detect unusual ulcers or abnormal swelling in the mouth, the dentist’s advice is to go to the doctor. There is a slim chance it could be oral cancer, a disease most often diagnosed by dentists. Oral cancer can be located on the tongue, lips, and under the tongue.

  1. Rheumatoid arthritis

Pain or immobility of the mandible (lower jaw bone) could indicate diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or some forms of lupus.

Our advice is not to wait for any signs of problems in your oral cavity and schedule regular appointments with the dentist, every 4-6 months. Remember that nothing is more important than your health and wellbeing!

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