"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

The 5 Things Dentists Wish Doctors Wouldn't Miss

November 29, 2023 – Dentists are calling on family doctors to pay more attention to the signs of disease that may show up within the mouth. From missed gum disease to suspicious lesions, oral health can provide crucial insight into broader medical problems.

A current statement The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force study found that dental exams by primary care physicians may not work well enough to capture patients who’re most in danger for oral health problems.

However, dentists say a fast look during regular visits could help discover health problems.

“Health care providers other than dentists don't look in the mouth often, and when they do, they look beyond the teeth and mouth into the throat,” said Romesh Nalliah, DDS, MHCM, associate dean for patient services on the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in Ann Arbor.

This can be a big challenge for GPs as we already ask a lot of them. But some of these things are very simple – just a quick scan of the mouth – and could be done by other staff in the doctor’s office.”

Here are five key conditions with oral signs that dentists wish primary care physicians would detect during checkups, which could allow for early detection and treatment:

  • Diabetes: When it involves oral health, type 2 diabetes can leave significant marks that dentists must listen to. For example, gum disease – characterised by inflamed, bleeding gums – could be a sign of the disease. People with diabetes could have dry mouth attributable to reduced saliva production, resulting in discomfort, difficulty swallowing, and the next risk of dental infections. An estimated 34% to 51% of individuals with diabetes have diabetes dry mouth.

Another sign that may show up within the mouth is a fungal infection, resembling: B. Oral thrush, which may mean your immune system isn’t working well and is commonly linked to uncontrolled diabetes.

“We know that gum disease is more common and severe in patients with diabetes and that treating gum disease can help improve diabetes-related outcomes,” he said Marie Jackson, DMD, FAGD, dentist in Montclair, NJ. “Good oral health habits are generally beneficial from a health perspective.”

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): Diseases resembling Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis have long been known for his or her impact on the intestines. However, a lesser known aspect of those disorders is their potential appear in the mouth, This presents a novel set of challenges for each patients and healthcare providers. Some individuals with IBD have painful mouth ulcers called aphthous stomatitis – more commonly referred to as canker sores. These oral symptoms not only increase the discomfort of IBD victims, but can even indicate that an illness is present.

“Crohn's disease, in particular, can cause mouth ulcers that look like sores,” Jackson said. “Every time someone comes in for a checkup, we look for red spots, which can be an indicator.”

These ulcers are sometimes flat and round and are typically situated on the soft tissues lining the mouth, resembling: B. the within the cheeks, lips and tongue. IBD and canker sores are related to inflammation. The body's immune response can result in an overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines, setting off a cascade of events that contribute to the event of those painful ulcers.

  • Heart disease: The mouth could be an unexpected place to seek out signs of heart and blood vessel disease. Heart problems are sometimes accompanied by oral symptoms, especially the next risk of gum disease. The connection lies within the inflammatory nature of each diseases; Chronic heart disease can result in an inflammatory response, which in turn worsens gum inflammation and results in gum disease more serious problems with your teeth and gums. Symptoms resembling bleeding gums, persistent bad breath and swelling of the gums can function early warning signs.

Additionally, individuals with gum disease are at higher risk of heart and blood vessel problems. Bacteria within the mouth can spread to other areas of the body, including the center.

“Gum disease provides an open portal to enter the bloodstream,” Jackson said.

  • osteoporosis: Osteoporosis, a bone disease that causes fractures and disability, often goes unnoticed until the condition results in an injury. But Research shows that it can affect teeth in noticeable ways, including tooth loss and gum disease.

For patients with implants, dentures and bridges, weak bones can prevent the substitute from fitting properly.

Unfortunately, certain medications for osteoporosis also bisphosphonate medications may Causing dental problems – something all doctors should concentrate on when prescribing medication, Nalliah said.

“If a doctor’s office prescribes a new medication for someone, they should send them to the dentist,” Nalliah said. “Many of them can cause dry mouth, which can lead to tooth decay.”

  • Oral cancer: Symptoms of oral cancer which may be visible during a physician's visit include a sore on the lip or contained in the mouth, white or reddish spots contained in the mouth, loose teeth, or a lump within the mouth.

“Every time I have a patient who has a white spot that they didn't have before, and if they haven't bitten their tongue, we have them come back in two or three weeks and if it's still there “We're going to have him biopsied,” Jackson said. “Oral cancer is definitely increasing with HPV, the human papilloma virus,” she said.

Oropharyngeal cancer The number of cases associated with HPV infection increased annually from 2015 to 2019 by 1.3% for ladies and by 2.8% for men.

Compared to other cancers of the mouth and throat, in accordance with the CDC Cancer has one of the worst 5-year survival rates: Only 52% of individuals diagnosed with oral cancer survive 5 years. Only 35% of all oral cancers are detected within the early stages.

“Most patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage of the disease,” Nalliah said. “Many of these vulnerable people don’t have dental insurance.”

Effects of oral hygiene on general health

While some health problems can present themselves within the mouth, the issues go each ways: Poor oral hygiene can lead to negative health consequences. Some studies show that there may even be a connection poor oral health and poorer brain health.

“I wish doctors would talk to our patients about the importance of regular dental visits,” said Ruchi Sahota, DDS, a general family dentist in Fremont, California, and consumer advisor for the American Dental Association.Teeth don't necessarily hurt until something big happens. Visiting the dentist regularly, brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing at least once a day can all contribute to better overall health.”