The human mouth is host to more microorganisms than there are people on this Earth. With so many different microbes living freely in our mouths, it only makes sense that many other diseases will first show signs and symptoms there.
Have you always thought your dentist only cleans and protects your teeth? Well, I am here today to tell you: that is not true. Your dentist is sometimes your first line of defense when it comes to diagnosing other diseases that can show symptoms in your mouth. Your dentist is trained to spot certain abnormalities in your mouth that can be a sign of a medical problem. While there are more than 120 different diseases that manifest in the mouth, we compiled a list of 4 to give you an idea of what abnormalities your dentist is on the lookout for during your bi-annual cleaning.
1. Anemia – Anemia is a condition in which your red blood cell count is lower than normal. If you have anemia, you may not be getting the oxygen-rich blood your body needs. Your mouth tissue will appear pale and you may have a swollen and inflamed tongue, called glossitis.
2. Herpangina – This is a virus that is usually spread in elementary schools. It manifests in the oral cavity as white sores in the mouth and throat. This virus usually only lingers for about a week before your child should start feeling better.
3. GERD – Dentists are usually the first to spot the serious signs of gastroesophageal reflux disease(GERD). GERD is a gastrointestinal disease that causes the acids in your stomach to make their way back into your oral cavity. Dentists spot the problem in dental erosion, as this is one of the most common symptoms of GERD.
4. Bulimia – Bulimia is one of the diseases that presents the worst symptoms in the mouth. Teeth are not only damaged, but are physically altered in color, size and shape depending on the severity of the problem. Dry mouth, red, cracked lips and sensitive teeth are also symptoms of bulimia. Changes begin to occur in the mouth only 6th months after initiation of bulimia.
Now that you know your dentist doesn’t only fix your teeth, remember to schedule appointments to see your dentist twice a year. Preventive checkups provide dentists with opportunities to identify and intervene early in dental diseases and, in some cases, other diseases in your body.