A lot of non-oral health issues have manifestations in the mouth or mouth area. The following are a few examples of why dentists should remember that their job is not only about filling cavities, but also about understanding the clues the mouth gives about the overall health of a patient:
~ Heart Disease – Bright red or purple gums
~ Type 2 Diabetes – Bleeding gums sensitive to touch although there is no noticeable plaque
~ Kidney Disease – Breath has sweet ammonia-like smell; very noticeable and pronounced
~ Acid Reflux – Worn down teeth; teeth affected dependant on where acid settles while person is in sleeping position
~ Oral Cancer – Gums and oral tissues with white spots; MUST last for at least two weeks or more
~ Leukemia – Bright red and swollen gums; differentiated from diabetes via blood test
~ Osteoporosis – Black spots that denote air pockets and dead bone; show up on X-rays
~ Stress – Cracked teeth or gums that have contracted away from teeth (can develop into infection)
~ Sleep Apnea – Swollen gums and tongue in areas which air passes through
~ Pregnancy – Swollen gums could imply hormonal changes
~ Bulimia – Paper-thin front teeth; most enamel worn down; different from acid reflux since it affects different teeth
As you can see, the mouth can display ailments are not even related to the mouth or mouth areas. That is why dentists must be fully trained to know what these signs are and what they mean. Early detection of multiple diseases and health problems can often be life saving.
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