Though your main concern at the dentist may be how many cavities you have, your dentist is looking for a whole lot more. The mouth is a window to the whole body. Habits, disease, changes in nutrition and health all show up in the mouth. Here are 10 things your dentist can see by simply looking in your mouth.
1. You like soda.
Soda is very acidic (yes, even the sugar free kind!) It bathes the teeth in acid and weakens the enamel, causing erosion and often times, large areas of decay on multiple teeth.
2. You have a sensitive stomach, bronchitis, reflux, kidney failure
The acid wear that comes from the outside, like soda, differs from acid that comes from within the body. Surfaces along the inside of the teeth are greatly affected giving the appearance that the enamel on the back side of the teeth have melted away. The front of the teeth may look mostly unaffected. As teeth think out from acid, they begin to chip, gums recede, and fillings and crowns may come loose.
3. You snore.
There are many indicators that a patient snores. A trained dentist will make observations such as a tongue that appears too large for the mouth, a reddened uvula or throat, a retruded jaw, and narrow dental arches are just a few. Physical observations followed up with a few questions could lead to a referral for a sleep study, as snoring is a sign of sleep apnea.
4. You grind.
Chipping/fractured/broken teeth and over developed chewing muscles are indicators of bruxism or grinding. Over time, grinding can lead to headaches, sore muscles, tooth loss and a collapsed bite. Grinding can be an indicator of a sleep breathing disorder and should be followed up with questions regarding sleep and symptoms. An appliance (night guard like) made to meet your needs can prevent you from needing a lot of costly dental work and may even help treat snoring or sleep apnea.
5. You bite your nails.
Biting your teeth can wear down the tips of your teeth and cause imbalance in the jaw and muscles of the face.
6. You floss only right before your appointment.
Bleeding, red or sore gums are a sign that there has been plaque present for long enough to start the inflammatory response. Some plaque becomes sticky or calcified when left untouched for more than a few days and can only be removed with a professional dental cleaning.
7. You have a vitamin deficiency.
Due to the rapid rate of cell turn over in the oral tissues, the mouth is often the first place vitamin deficiencies appear.
8. You have diabetes.
Rapid deterioration of the periodontium (bones and gums that support the teeth), loose teeth, lesions that do not heal, inflammation and swelling and dry mouth can indicate an issue with blood sugar. Conversely, untreated oral infections can make it difficult to control blood sugar.
9. You have oral cancer.
Your dental team looks for signs of oral cancer every time you open your mouth. Anything out of the ordinary that doesn’t heal in 2 weeks should be biopsied.
10. You sucked your thumb.
Thumb sucking and pacifier use changes the way the mouth develops. Unless surgery and a whole lot of orthodontics were done, we know you loved your binky!