Your dentist doesn’t just fix teeth.
They’re dentists. Isn’t that in their job description?
It is, but it’s not all they do. As the medical industry changes, so does dentistry and the responsibilities of being a dentist.
What do dentists do besides fix teeth?
Your dentist may be the only health practitioner you see all year.
When was the last time you visited your family doctor?
More than that?
As a result, your dentist may take on the responsibility of screening you for medical disease while you’re in the chair. They look for things like:
- High blood pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Discolouration of the face, neck, lips, or scalp
- Changes in the amount of saliva
- Pain in your face, head, or neck
- Poorly-healed sores in your mouth
Any and all of these findings can lead them to recommend a visit to your family doctor to check for chronic high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, extreme side effects to medications, diabetes, and more.
Could my headaches, neck, and face pain stem from my mouth?
If you’ve had a lot of dentistry done, or teeth removed but not replaced, or your teeth have worn down due to grinding or age, your bite changes. This causes your muscles and nerves in your head and neck to respond poorly and painfully to this newly unbalanced bite.
If you go to a doctor with this pain, they may tell you to take pain medication and/or learn to live with it. This is because they don’t know how to evaluate the bite. Most doctors may not think of referring you to a dentist right away. In some cases, your pain can be treated and managed with a visit to the dentist.
How does poor oral health affect my overall health?
Let’s use bleeding gums as an example.
They are never normal. Ever.
If your gums bleed during your appointment, your dentist should use a variety of methods to help, and they should also recommend tools to use at home to get it to stop.
Because bleeding gums are a sign of a bacterial infection. If you take a sip of water, you wash some of that bacteria into your stomach.
Love chewing gum? You swallow some of the harmful bacteria.
You take a deep breath of fresh air? Bacteria enters your lungs.
Do you kiss your spouse before bed? You guessed it. The bacteria can possibly transfer to them.
Your gums are the foundation for your teeth. If they are in bad shape, no amount of beautifully placed fillings will fix that. The good news is that they can be fixed, despite what you may have been told in the past. It takes a significant amount of effort from both you and your dentist.
Are sleep disorders related to my oral health?
You work too many hours, you’re too connected to your cell phone and computer, and now your sleep schedule is paying for it.
But what if those aren’t the only things that contribute to your constant fatigue?
In modern dentistry, dentists are educated on recognizing the signs and symptoms of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and upper airway resistance syndrome. They are learning these things for several reasons, like memory, learning, and work performance.
Thanks to this education, dentists can now understand that poor sleep can contribute to the early onset of major diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes, just to name a few. While fixing cavities is important, it doesn’t compare to potentially saving a patient’s life.
If you haven’t visited your doctor in a few years, you should at least consider making an appointment with your dentist. They can evaluate your overall health when they look at your mouth. If you’re looking for a dentist who will give you a thorough evaluation, reach out to Dr. Andrea Stevens today.