While cavities and plaque build-up may be what’s on your mind before a teeth cleaning, your dentist is looking for a whole lot more. One might say the mouth is the window to the body! Often, diseases like cancer, anemia and diabetes will first be identified by the dentist in a regular examination, and this can save lives. It’s not just diseases—dentists can discover everything from your bad habits to your favorite beverages simply by asking you to say, “Ahh!”. So before you try to think that you can pull a fast one on your dentist, think again…
You flossed right before your appointment—and that’s the only time. Sorry, but you can’t fool your dentist into thinking you floss daily by doing so the night before or morning of your visit.
You’re pregnant. Nearly 40% of women will develop gingivitis during their pregnancy. This is caused by increased progesterone, which facilitates the growth of bacteria, causing gingivitis. Some women will develop a deep red lump on their gums called a pregnancy tumor or pyogenic granuloma. This type of tumor is completely benign and will go away after the pregnancy is over. Most women are typically pretty far along before their gums start bleeding, so it’s not as though a dentist will “discover” that a patient is pregnant.
You sucked your thumb as a child. Most children that suck their thumbs or a finger have no long-term effects from the habit. Those who did so past the age of seven or eight may show significant changes to their bite or the position of their teeth. Much of that can be corrected through orthodontic treatment, but some telltale signs can remain.
Your bad breath may mean something. General bad breath is categorized as halitosis. But dentists are also trained to identify “fruity” smells and “fishy” smells, which can mean numerous things. ‘Fruity’ breath could indicate uncontrolled diabetes or a dietary fast that has gone too far, while ‘fishy’ breath could be a sign of kidney or liver failure. If the smell is very foul it could be anything from gastroesophageal reflux to other underlying problems.
You may have an eating disorder. Many patients are surprised that their dentist is the first one to ask about eating disorders. Bulimia exhibits a very distinct pattern of tooth wear that your dentist can easily identify. Other possibilities include acid reflux and the use of antidepressants or mood-elevating drugs, both of which reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth, thereby upping the odds of acid damage.
You have oral cancer. The first signs of oral cancer can be seen from the following: unexplained bleeding in the mouth, white, red, or speckled patches in the mouth, a change in the way your teeth fit together, swellings, thickenings, lumps or bumps or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth. An oral surgeon should be consulted for a biopsy of any suspicious tissue.
You love soda & energy drinks. You may know why you chipped your tooth and even though the cause may be apparent, there could be underlying factors that weakened the tooth and made it susceptible to being chipped in the first place. He explains that teeth can be softened by sodas and other sugary beverages over time, which may make a tooth more susceptible to chipping. Energy drinks, which tend to be even more acidic than soft drinks, may cause even more damage to tooth enamel.
Schedule an appointment today with Dr. David Lunt, DDS by calling 818-885-7230. Visit the website for more information at www.davidluntdds.com.
Dr. Lunt gladly accepts patients from Cal State Northridge, Burbank, San Fernando, Topanga Canyon, Valley Glen, Agoura and all surrounding areas.