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What the Dentist Sees

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What the Dentist Sees

Your teeth tell tales about your health

A dental checkup isn’t just about getting your teeth cleaned. In fact, your dentist isn’t looking only at your teeth. He’s looking at all the soft tissues in your mouth. And here’s what he could detect:

If the lining of your mouth is more pink than red, dentists might suspect anemia, a condition in which the body doesn’t have enough red blood cells circulating. Another sign of anemia is a smooth-looking tongue, one that’s lost its bumpy texture.

Roughly 20 percent of people with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disorder, develop lesions in their mouth. A 2010 study from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston found that the lesions may even show up before abdominal symptoms of the disease.

Patients with diabetes are more likely to develop gum disease, and that can lead to bleeding dry gums, dry mouth and loose teeth. If your dentist suspects diabetes, he will probably suggest you see your primary care physician for a blood test. Since oral health and diabetes management are closely linked, taking care of your teeth and gums may help you better control your blood sugar.

Stomach acid that backs up into your esophagus and mouth can dissolve tooth enamel and create erosive lesions in the back of your mouth. While many people who have GERD know it by the hallmark heartburn symptoms, some patients only experience GERD while asleep and may not know they have it.

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BHM Edit Staff