Think about the people who come to mind when you think about saving lives: firemen, policemen, emergency room physicians. But did you know that dentists can also save your life? Your dentist knows a lot more about your overall health than you may think. By interpreting signs and symptoms appearing in your mouth your dentist can pinpoint serious medical conditions such as heart and kidney disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
In order to spot these potentially deadly diseases your dentist will do well to investigate your mouth for the following signs:
Bleeding and/or Inflamed Gums
If a dentist notices that your gums are bright red and/or inflamed it can be related to two very serious illnesses, Heart Disease and Diabetes. While singular cases of inflammation or bleeding aren’t enough to warrant this type of diagnosis, chronic cases are a sure sign. By visiting the dentist regularly your dentist can check for these signs as well as instruct you on prevention.
Ammonia Breath and Metal Mouth
If your breath starts to smell like ammonia or you begin to have a metallic taste in your mouth you may have kidney disease, an often life threating disease. Speak to your dentist to rule out other possibilities. Your dentist may recommend you seek further medical attention.
Chronic Mouth Sores
Sores in the mouth can be annoying and may be caused by a variety of reasons. However, if your mouth sores are frequent and take a long time to heal this may be the cause of a certain type of cancer: leukemia. Leukemia is a life threatening type of cancer which is treatable but must be treated immediately.
White Patches on the Gums
If your dentist notices clusters of white spots on your gums this may be a sign of oral cancer. As with all types of cancer the quicker it can be treated the better the odds of survival. Make sure to ask your dentist what to look for when conducting at home self examinations.
Trouble Breathing When Lying Down
If your dentist notices that you have trouble breathing while laying back in his chair he may say that this may be a sign of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea in most cases is not fatal. However, in rare cases, it may become so severe, that the decreased flow of oxygen can cause a stroke. This is only increased with the coupling of high blood pressure and heart disease.
So the next time you see your dentist, thank them for being a potential life saver!