Five Surprising Things Our Dentists Can Detect During an Oral Evaluation

One of the most common compliments we receive from new patients at Prosper Family Dentistry is that we have provided the most thorough evaluation of their mouth.  We often hear comments like “no dentist has ever looked at that before!” or “you can tell that by looking at my mouth?”

We believe in a comprehensive oral evaluation that is truly comprehensive.  Because the mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body, we often find evidence of other health problems in the mouth.  The human body is one unit with every system connected to the other in some way.  Our doctors have extensive education and experience in finding those connections.

  1. You Have Poor Quality of Sleep.

kinga-cichewicz-5NzOfwXoH88-unsplashSleep apnea is a disorder that affects millions of Americans.  An obstructed airway cuts off breathing periodically throughout the night, leading to poor quality of sleep.  People who suffer from sleep apnea often feel exhausted, even after a full night of sleep.  Many people with sleep apnea have no idea that they are suffering from this problem.

Our dentists are in a great position to detect this potential breathing problem.  We have the opportunity to evaluate the size of your airway, both through a visual examination and through the use of three-dimensional imaging.  This disorder makes it more difficult for you to get control of problems like high blood pressure and weight gain.  Sleep apnea also leaves evidence on the teeth and gums.

  1. You Have Severe Acid Reflux.

Acid reflux or GERD involve the backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus.  Stomach acid is a strong acid, measuring at a pH of about 1.5 to 3.5.  When reflux is severe, it can bring that strong acid all the way up into the oral cavity.

The pH of a healthy mouth should be neutral or just above neutral and slightly alkaline.  If stomach acid is consistently moving up the esophagus and into the mouth, it can quickly bring the pH in the mouth to a dangerously low level.  Tooth enamel begins weakening and softening at a pH of 5.5 or below.  Over time, stomach acid can lead to such severe erosion that the enamel is completely missing.

  1. You Have a Nutritional Deficiency.

A healthy balance of vitamins and minerals from our various food sources is essential to overall health.  What many people do not realize is that this balance is also essential to the health of the soft tissues inside the mouth.  Many nutritional deficiencies cause problems in the mouth.

These problems include frequent or recurrent aphthous ulcers (canker sores), burning mouth syndrome, a painful enlarged tongue, persistent dry mouth, and many others.  Sometimes the nutritional deficiencies are the result of problems in your gastrointestinal tract, where you are eating the proper nutrients, but your body is not absorbing them (called malabsorption).  In other cases, the deficiencies are the result of a lack of these nutrients in your diet.

  1. You Have Uncontrolled Blood Sugar.

Uncontrolled blood sugar can affect people who know they are diabetic and people who have no clue.  When the level of blood sugar is out of control, our diabetic patients may need adjustment of diet or medication.  When it happens to people who don’t know they could be diabetic, they need to see a doctor ASAP.

One of the effects of uncontrolled blood sugar is a constriction of the tiniest blood vessels in the body that go out to our extremities.  This is why diabetics often lose their toes.  The constriction of these vessels cuts off the blood supply, and they cannot heal from infections that develop.  What is interesting and often forgotten is that the gums are an “extremity”.  It is where many blood vessels end.  When gum tissues lose their blood supply, they will not heal from the infections of periodontal disease.

What is noteworthy to your dentists and dental hygienists is that the gums look different in a diabetic patient with periodontal disease than in a patient who has the same gum disease but healthy blood sugar levels.  The loss of blood flow gives the gums a pale color and prevents bleeding even though there is chronic inflammation present.  If you have been unsuccessful in your fight against gum disease, your dentist may refer you to your medical doctor for evaluation of your blood sugar.

  1. You Have Chronic Head and Neck Pain.

x-ray-of-the-jaw-2416945_640One relatively new area of interest in dentistry (at least to our awesome dentists) is the correlation between the alignment of the vertebrae in the neck and chronic head and/or neck pain.  The three-dimensional imaging technology that we use at Prosper Family Dentistry captures more than just your mouth.  We use a field of view that shows the entirety of the upper and lower jaws and the upper cervical vertebrae.

A misalignment of these bones in the upper neck can cause pain in the face, the jaw joints, and even the teeth!

More Questions about Our Comprehensive Evaluations?

Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara and Dr. Summer.  These skilled dentists will perform a thorough evaluation of your mouth and let you know of any related conditions they suspect.  We believe that a completely healthy mouth is an important part of your overall health, and we aim to help you achieve it!

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