General Dentistry |3 min read

Your Dental Checkup Could Provide Insights About Your Overall Health

Tooth and Stethoscope

Many people don’t realize that there are more reasons to attend your regularly scheduled dental checkups than just preserving your beautiful smile. When you visit Dr. Silberman, he is not only watching for cavities and gum disease, he is examining all the soft tissues of your mouth.

It may sound strange, but a person’s oral health can reveal important — and often early — insights about other aspects of that person’s well-being.

For instance, one of the most important diseases that Dr. Silberman can detect is oral cancer. It is the sixth most common cancer in the United States, and The Oral Cancer Foundation reported that more than 43,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer during 2015. Attending your regular dental checkups can allow Dr. Silberman to detect signs of oral cancer during its earliest stages, when the patient’s survival rate is highest.

Oral cancer appears as red and white lesions that are often found on the tongue and the floor of the mouth. These lesions are initially painless and very difficult for patients to identify, but Dr. Silberman’s trained eye can pinpoint this problem in his oral cancer screening during your exam.

A dentist can also identify a condition called anemia, which is when the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Dr. Silberman can spot this condition because the lining of the mouth appears to be very pale and the tongue — which is usually bumpy — will be smooth-looking.

And believe it or not, something as pedestrian as stress can even be visible to a dentist through telltale signs in your mouth. Actually, it’s typically more severe stress that’s the culprit in this scenario: Some patients grind their teeth when they are feeling significant stress. (Another name for teeth-grinding is “bruxism.”) Many people grind their teeth at night while sleeping. This is a condition that Dr. Silberman often addresses with a custom-made night guard.

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disorder that also manifests itself with lesions in the mouth. In some cases a patient with Crohn’s disease will have swollen lips and large ulcers on the inside of the cheeks and lips. Dr. Silberman has extensive experience in identifying and treating lesions from Crohn’s and other digestive diseases.

Dentists also might suspect that a patient suffers from gastroesophageal reflux disease (also known as “GERD”), which is a chronic, digestive disease where the stomach acid flows back into the esophagus and mouth. Stomach acid can dissolve tooth enamel and cause lesions to appear in the back of the mouth. These are signs that will signify to Dr. Silberman that the patient may have GERD.

And last, but certainly not least, your dentist can help to identify diabetes through various oral afflictions, such as loose teeth, dry mouth and gums, and bleeding and receding gums. Patients who suffer from diabetes are more likely to contract periodontal disease (gum disease). And since periodontal disease is widely prevalent, Dr. Silberman typically doesn’t assume that a patient has diabetes — not immediately. However, if he suspects that diabetes might be a possibility, Dr. Silberman might recommend getting a blood test.

So, if you’re long overdue for your regular dental checkup, please contact The Silberman Dental Group in Waldorf, Maryland, today by calling (301) 885-2505 to set up an appointment. You just never know what Dr. Silberman might find, so it’s good to have Doc take a look!

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