Health Problems Visible to Your Dentist


You know that good oral health requires regular dental appointments for checkups and professional cleanings each year. But you may not know that during the exam your dentist may see signs of diseases, neglect and lifestyle habits.

Review seven of the 12 health tips featured in Prevention magazine:

  1. Acid damage – Etched enamel on the front or back of teeth could be from an eating disorders, such as bulimia, or acid reflux. It also happens with antidepressant medications. Acid can break down the enamel, providing a rich environment for tooth decay.
  2. Nail biting – Teeth that are chipped, cracked, worn or flat and leveled off are signs of nail biting. When people bite their nails, the top and bottom teeth rub against each other, which eventually can cause jaw pain and discomfort.
  3. Thumb sucking – Children who suck their thumbs after age 7 may alter their bite or teeth position. Consult an orthodontics professional to have bite problems corrected, otherwise children can experience jaw pain and speech problems.
  4. Oral cancer – Key signs of oral cancer include:
  • White, red or speckled patches in the mouth
  • Bite changes
  • Lumps, bumps or skin erosion on the lips, gums or inside cheeks
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
  1. Flossing habits – Some people put off flossing until the day of their dental appointment. However, they can’t fool their dentist. Dental experts report that the gums of people who don’t floss daily look damaged and bleed easily. In comparison, people who floss daily have healthy, pink gums that fit close to the teeth.
  2. Foul, fruity or fishy breath – Dentists easily can identify potential health concerns just by smelling your breath:
  • Foul – Could be caused by reflux, lung abscess, bronchitis or a tonsil stone
  • Fruity smell – Indicator of diabetes or prolonged fasting
  • Fishy smell – Sign of kidney or liver failure

After ruling out that the cause isn’t related to tooth decay or gum disease, the dentist may recommend that the patient visit a medical doctor.

  1. Sinus infection – Inflamed sinuses can put pressure on the roots of upper teeth, causing people to think they need a root canal. To determine the source of pain, bend over to touch your toes. If the pain increases, it’s not caused by teeth. Contact your doctor to see if it could be your sinuses.


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