When your dentist asks you to open up, he or she sees much more than a lot of plaque, a chipped tooth, and a few ignored cavities. While the eyes are referred to as the “windows to the soul,” the mouth could very well be termed “the window to your overall health.” In reality, your dentist can pinpoint bad habits, ranging from alcoholism to soda addiction and diseases, from diabetes to oral cancer simply by examining your mouth.
Alcoholism: If you have an addiction to alcohol, chances are opening your mouth and breathing into your dentists face will be enough convince them that you have a drinking problem. There are many ways that a dentist can pinpoint alcoholic patients, starting with the smell of alcohol on the breath and the patient’s ruddy complexion.
You drink a lot of soda: If you drink a lot of sugary sodas or energy drinks throughout the day, chances are that your dentist already knows. Chipped teeth can be an underlying sign of weak, soft teeth caused by drinking sugary beverages. If you’ve gobbled a lot of energy drinks and sodas over time, gradually washing your teeth and gums in refined sugars and acids will weaken and damage teeth, making them prone to chips.
You have an eating disorder: If your dentist brings up bulimia at your annual check up, he may have picked up on some subtle signs of the disorder by peering into your mouth. Dentists are often the first medical professional to notice the telltale signs of bulimia in patients. This is due to the fact that bulimics develop a distinct pattern of acid erosion on the teeth near the front of the mouth. Tooth wear that your dentist can easily identify.
Diagnosed Diabetes: Patients with uncontrolled diabetes are susceptible to dental problems- particularly swelling, bleeding, sensitivity, and infections of the gums. Not only unmanaged blood sugar levels can cause decreased blood supply to the gums, dry mouth can exacerbate bacteria and plaque build-up, resulting in gum disease. A dentist may be the first medical professional to ask you to have your blood sugar levels tested due to signs of gum damage in your mouth.
Spotting oral cancer: Dentists play an integral role in early diagnosis of oral cancer by being the first medical profession to notice subtle changes in the mouth that your regular general practitioner might not see during an annual check up.
Pregnancy: Pregnant women have chances of developing gingivitis. The influx of progesterone hormone during pregnancy is to blame for heightened risk of periodontitis (gum disease) and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). This is why this condition is known as “pregnancy gingivitis.”