5 serious conditions your dentist can spot
EDMOND — You go to your dentist to protect your pearly whites, but a check up of your mouth could reveal something serious lurking elsewhere in your body. Your mouth can hold secrets about the health of your entire body. "There's a lot we've been learning in the last five years about that," said dentist Tim Rudd at Coffee Creek Family Dentistry in Edmond.Dr Rudd shared the top five serious conditions dentists can help find. 1. Diabetes"One of the big things you see is an unusually dry mouth, and from that you can also see inflammation of the gums that may not have another explanation," said Dr. Rudd. It's a red flag for young patients, whose diabetes often goes undiagnosed. 2. Heart diseaseSevere periodontal disease was recently found to be strongly associated with risk of heart disease. Dr. Rudd said, "It has to do with the inflammatory response in the mouth and how those cells can get into the blood stream and travel to the heart." 3. DementiaYour teeth also give clues about your brain. Tooth loss could mean memory loss. A bacteria linked with gum disease is the common thread. "One of the gingivalis families of bacteria is found not only in the mouth but also in the brain tissue of patients with dementia," Dr. Rudd said.4. Osteoporosis Signs of bone loss could pop up on your x-rays. Osteoporosis usually goes undetected until a fracture occurs. "We look for bone density," said Dr. Rudd. "And there's kind of a normal range that bone density is usually in." 5. Acid reflux diseaseAcid from your stomach can wear away the enamel on the back of your teeth. You might not see it when looking in the mirror. "It'll thin the tooth from the back. It's like an acid wash on the back of the teeth," Dr. Rudd explained, saying it's especially bad on the bottom teeth. Knowing your dentist might help spot these five serious conditions could be new reason not to miss your next dental check up. While he can't treat these conditions, your dentist could be the first step to getting you in the care of a doctor from just a few clues from inside your mouth. Dr. Rudd says he once had a patient with very swollen gums. He suggested a blood test from a doctor. That patient was diagnosed with leukemia.