Connections Between Oral Health & Overall Health

Visits to the dentist aren’t just important for keeping your smile healthy, they’re important for maintaining overall wellness. The dentist is a crucial member of any person’s health care team and can even help you prevent life-threatening disease.

Many patients are surprised to learn that many serious diseases like diabetes and cancer can be detected by their dentist during routine exams. The dentist may notice signs inside your mouth before you have experienced any physical symptoms.

Oral Cancer

Oral Cancer Dentist Philadelphia PA
One of the rising concerns in the dental and medical fields is oral cancer. Smoking and tobacco use increase the risk of oral cancer, but the fastest growing population of patients with new occurrences of oral cancer are actually young, non-smoking adults. HPV is believed to now be the leading cause of oral cancer in the United States.

Philadelphia dentist Dr. Pamela Doray performs an oral cancer screening at all dental check-up appointments to look for signs of the disease. When detected early, the prognosis for oral cancer is very good.

Dr. Doray’s examination includes an oral cancer screening device as well as a physical evaluation to look for sores, lumps or hard spots, discolored patches and changes in the lymph nodes. Other signs that the dentist can check for are changes in the way the teeth fit together and tenderness, pain or numbness in the mouth.

Diabetes & Dentistry

Diabetes is one of the leading chronic diseases in the United States, affecting more than 25 million people. Increased levels of blood sugar lower resistance to infection, increasing the risk for periodontal disease. As gum disease advances, it can lead to tooth loss, bone loss and further contribute to chronic disease like diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Diabetes can also reduce saliva production, causing dry mouth, which increases the risk of cavity formation and can contribute to halitosis (bad breath).

Diet & Oral Health

One of the biggest impacts on oral health is diet. Patients who drink lots of soda, regularly suck on candies, abuse alcohol or have eating disorders are likely to have significant problems with their teeth and gums.

Acid erosion is common in patients who consume significant amounts of soda, sports drinks and alcohol as well as patients suffering with anorexia or bulimia. Digestive disorders such as GERD can causes erosion as well. The sugars in these drinks or acids from the stomach attack and erode tooth enamel. As the enamel wears away, the dentin becomes exposed which leads to cavity formation, discoloration and sensitivity.

Another health risk associated with poor diet and eating disorders is gum irregularities and gum disease. As the body is deprived of important nutrients and minerals, the gums loose their healthy pink color, become sore or swollen and eventually begin to recede. Gum disease can also lead to tooth loss and contribute to other health conditions.

What You Can Do

The best thing to do is visit your dentist regularly and remind your loved ones about the importance of good oral health. Eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water to reduce your risk for gum disease and tooth decay.

If you have dental concerns like tooth erosion, contact our Philadelphia dentist office for a consultation with Dr. Doray. We can offer you solutions to improve your oral health and restore your beautiful smile.