What Kind of Conditions Can Your Dentist Find by Looking at Your Mouth?

Health & FitnessCancer / Illness

  • Author David Crumpton, Dds
  • Published February 4, 2022
  • Word count 586

Tooth decay and gum disease aren’t the only things that a dentist might find during a routine checkup. Many systemic health problems have symptoms that manifest orally; as such, the mouth often exhibits warning signs that there’s a problem in the rest of the body. Here are some examples of conditions that a dentist might be able to identify.

Cancer

Nowadays, routine dental checkups and cleanings often include oral cancer screening. The dentist will check for discolored spots, ulcerated areas in the cheeks, and unusual lumps and bumps. They might also look for signs of swelling in the glands around the neck. If any concerning symptoms are found, they will likely make arrangements for a specialist to perform a biopsy to see if cancer is present.

Diabetes

Diabetes affects the entire body in numerous ways, and naturally that includes the mouth. Some people notice a burning sensation or wounds that don’t heal as quickly as they should. Also, due to an impaired immune system, the risk of gum disease and other infections is much higher, and they’re likely to be more severe. It’s important to take steps to get diabetes under control as soon as it’s identified in order to minimize the damage it causes. A dentist will take note of any symptoms that could point to untreated diabetes and tell the patient what steps they need to take next.

GERD

“GERD” is short for “gastroesophageal reflux disease,” which is a condition where the acids in your stomach travel up through the esophagus. The acids can get on the teeth, wearing down and weakening the enamel at an unusually fast rate; other possible consequences include bad breath, canker sores, and dry mouth. A dentist might be able to catch GERD if they notice unusual damage done to the teeth near the back of the mouth.

Sjorgen’s Syndrome

Sjorgen’s Syndrome is an autoimmune condition where the immune system starts attacking healthy cells in your mouth – specifically in the glands responsible for keeping the mouth moist. This can result in a dry mouth, which is not only uncomfortable but also raises the risk of oral infection. If your dentist finds that you have swollen salivary glands accompanying your dry mouth, it’s often a sign that Sjorgen’s Syndrome is the culprit.

Anemia

When your body can’t produce enough red blood cells, or if the red blood cells you do have don’t function properly, you have a condition called anemia. The main symptom of anemia is fatigue, but another possible warning sign is a loss of color in the gums, tongue, and other soft tissues in the mouth. A dentist that observes such changes might recommend supplements or dietary changes to increase the patient’s iron intake.

There are more conditions that a dentist may be able to identify while examining the teeth and gums, and if they identify them during a checkup, they can ensure that their patients get the treatment they need all the sooner.

About the Practice

Dr. David Crumpton has been serving the Trophy Club, Southlake, Westlake, Grapevine, and Roanoke communities for over 26 years. By staying on top of the latest dental technology, he’s able to offer his patients truly thorough examinations that catch even the smallest sign of tooth decay, cavities, and many other conditions. He is always up front about the available treatment options and will never try to upsell you; he’ll only tell you what your smile truly needs.

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