A regular dental check-up can reveal a lot more than just the state of your oral health. It can uncover hidden issues with your bones, heart, blood sugar, and digestion. Certain warning signs can be found in the mouth, making it essential to visit the dentist for your overall wellbeing. Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia can lead to malnutrition, and patients with these conditions may have bleeding gums or dry mouths.
Bulimia in particular can cause dental erosion due to stomach acids, which can severely damage the tooth enamel and have a negative impact on the body as a whole. Heavy drinkers are also prone to dry mouth and tooth decay, as alcohol is high in sugar and reduces saliva production. It is well known that alcohol abuse is detrimental to health. Around half of pregnant women develop gingivitis, while a smaller percentage may develop a pyogenic granuloma or pregnancy tumor on the gum. Some pregnant women may need more frequent dental care, and toothaches and tenderness can be a sign of pregnancy.
However, this symptom alone will not be enough for the dentist to determine if you are pregnant. Therefore, it is important to inform your dentist if you are expecting. X-rays and certain treatments may not be safe during pregnancy, so it is important to let your dentist know. The dentist can also identify anemia if there is a loss of color in the tongue, gums, or other areas of the mouth. It is essential to be honest with your dentist and all members of your healthcare team.
Shawn Adibi, DDS, associate professor in the department of general medicine and dental public health at the University of Texas at Houston states that dentists understand this. Stuart Forum, president of the American Academy of Periodontists (dentists who specialize in gum disease) and practicing periodontist in Manhattan adds that dentists will often ask questions about your general health and habits. If your body is not getting the right nutrients or if you have an eating disorder such as bulimia, your dentist may detect signs of mouth problems before your doctor can diagnose them. Dietary changes or supplements can help treat anemia once it has been identified by your dentist. If you are honest about your flossing habits with your dentist, they may be able to save your life; however, if you lie, you could undergo unnecessary tests (and worry) for no reason.