Many people are well aware that attending regular dental exams helps maintain oral health; however, what they might not know is that the condition of your teeth is a strong indicator of overall health.
While performing a routine dental exam, dentists examine not only your teeth but also your tongue, roof of your mouth and the insides of your cheeks. They look for abnormalities in these tissues, and if something looks like a potential problem, they can refer you to the appropriate physician.
The oral cavity is also the first place that symptoms appear in the instance of some systemic diseases. As with any disease or ailment, early diagnosis is the key to treating problems and preventing them from coming back. Since they have to look in your mouth in order to work on your teeth, dentists are often the first ones to notice these symptoms.
Many dentists are now performing oral cancer screenings during checkups with a special light that can detect abnormal tissue that can be a sign of cancer. This early detection means a better chance of treating and curing these cancers in patients.
There are also many connections between certain diseases and oral health problems. Studies have shown a link between heart disease and poor health, with gum bleeding being connected to higher levels of bad cholesterol, for example. Studies have also shown a connection between gum disease and diabetes.
Oral health also has a major impact on mental and emotional health. People with dental diseases or poor dental hygiene often suffer from self esteem and confidence issues.
The connection between oral and overall health still requires more testing to determine whether there is a definitive link between certain diseases, or if people who do not take care of their overall health also fail to maintain proper oral health.