- The Mouth
- Oral Cancer
- Patients with Heart Conditions
- Impact of Medications On your Health
The Mouth: A Mirror of Health
The mouth is often called the body’s “barometer” or “mirror” of health, because it’s so easy to observe and because so many diseases have oral sign and symptoms.
Many diseases can manifest themselves in the mouth and tongue. That’s why when we examine your mouth, we look for more than tooth decay. Disorders that can show up in the mouth include:
Vitamin deficiencies. A burning or sore tongue is a common symptom of iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiencies. Bleeding gums can be a warning sign not only of gum disease, but also of scurvy, a Vitamin C deficiency.
Diabetes. Early signs can include red, swollen gums and teeth that are sensitive to tapping.
Leukemia. Signs can include sores inside the cheek, in the throat and on the tonsils and lips.
Bulimia. The compulsive pattern of consuming enormous quantities of food and then vomiting may lead to loss enamel and dentin on the inner (tongue) sides of the teeth.
Infectious mononucleosis. This condition is sometimes signaled by inflamed gums and tiny hemorrhage spots on the roof of the mouth.
Sinusitis. This condition is an inflammation of the sinus cavity, which can feel like a toothache.
Regular professional care has always been your best way to maintain the health of your teeth and gums. Now you know that dental exams help you care for the rest of your body, too.
Oral Cancer Detection
Not only do periodic dental examinations help detect cavities and gum disease, but they also allow early detection of oral cancer.
During dental exams, we screen for precancerous changes in the oral tissues and help detect cancer at a stage when it can be more successfully treated.
Because early detection is important, check your mouth when brushing and flossing. Contact our office if you notice any changes in the appearance of your mouth or any of the signs and symptoms listed below:
A persistent sore or irritation that does not heal;
Color changes such as the development or red and /or white lesions;
Pain, tenderness o numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips;
A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area;
Difficulty in chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue;
Changes in bite.
Each year, 10,000 Americans die or oral cancer, with 30,000 new cases of the disease diagnosed annually.
Dentists are often first to detect this disease when it is in its early, treatable stages. So visit our office regularly.
Dental Care for Patients with Heart Conditions
If you have a heart condition, taking good care of your teeth and gums is important not only for your smile, but for your heart as well. Certain heart conditions and cardiac abnormalities can present risks during dental treatment. During certain dental treatment, even teeth cleaning, bleeding can occur. As a result, bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and work its way to the heart. The bacteria may cause bacterial endocarditis. Therefore, you may be required to take antibiotic medication before dental treatment to protect your heart and help prevent infection.
To determine whether an existing heart condition poses a risk, we need your complete health history, including and medications you are taking, on our medical history form. If your health status has changed since your last visit, let us know. We want to help keep you healthy. Don’t hesitate to talk to us or your physician about your heart condition and the medication prescribed to protect your heart and keep you smiling. Regardless of your heart condition, it’s important to maintain your oral health. Brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste, clean between your teeth daily with dental floss or an interdental cleaner and schedule regular dental visits.
Diabetes Can Lead to Dental Problems
Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease that affects more than 11 million people in the United States. In addition, many people have undiagnosed diabetes, symptoms of which may first be detected in a dental exam. The importance of maintaining healthy teeth and gums is magnified in a diabetic dental patient who may be especially prone to oral health problems.
The most consistent oral problem for people with diabetes is the development of periodontal, or gum, disease. Patients with diabetes may have rapid development of periodontal disease and jaw bone loss in response to relatively small accumulations of dental plaque and calculus (tartar).
Detection of diabetes in a dental patient is also important it may take longer for gum tissues to heal after surgery, with an increased likelihood of infection developing. Acute dental problems should be treated as soon as possible in patients with diabetes.
People with diabetes can enjoy good oral health if they properly control their disease and work closely with their physician and dentist to manage their condition. For diabetic dental patients, routine dental care is imperative and can be accomplished with just a few modifications. With good oral hygiene habits, routine dental care and open communication with our office, people with diabetes can enjoy good oral health.
Our Office Needs to Know…
The history of your diabetes, you current condition, what medications you are taking and your medical treatment.
How often you visit a physician; we may need to consult with your physician prior to and during the course of dental treatment. Your diet, whether you had an insulin injection prior to the appointment, and if you missed a meal prior to receiving a dental treatment. If dental treatment causes you anxiety. Stress can increase insulin requirements by raising glucose levels. Since some people to do experience stress with dental treatment, self monitoring and medication adjustments become important.
Drug Affect Your Dental Health-and Your Dental Treatment.
You may not have considered the impact prescription medications and even over the counter drugs can have on your oral health, and on the dental treatment you receive.Informing us about your medication history and what drugs you are currently taking is essential because of dental health effects, potential side effects and possible interactions with drugs the dentist might use during treatment or prescribe.
We sometimes prescribe antibiotics with certain dental procedures. But, if you taking oral contraceptives, be sure to let our dental staff know. Taking tetracycline or penicillin could reduce the effectiveness of an oral contraceptive. This includes drugs often used in dentistry, such as ampicillin, amoxicillin, oxacillin and penicillin V.
If you have heart disease or a special heart condition, it is critical that we know your medical status. During dental treatment, bleeding may occur and cause bacteria from the mouth to enter the bloodstream and work its way to the heart. This presents a risk for bacteria endocarditis, a serious inflammation of the heart valve. We can prescribe antibiotics for appropriate procedures, such as teeth cleaning, to prevent endocarditis. Likewise, let us know if you have an artificial joint. Antibiotics are recommended for some patients with artificial joints who also have some other medical conditions.
Knowing what drugs to avoid in patients with medically complex conditions is also important. For example, if you have peptic ulcer disease, we will avoid prescribing drugs that are irritating to the gastrointestinal tract. If you are on anti depressants or beta blockers, you doctor can reduce the amount of epinephrine used, if necessary.
A very common side effect of many drugs, such as antihistamines and antidepressants, is dry mouth. Inadequate saliva flow in the mouth can contribute to cavities and gum disease. We can help you deal with this condition.
Inform our office:
If you have ever had an unusual reaction to any drug:
If you are taking any prescription or over the counter drugs, including vitamins;
If you are planning to have surgery with a general anesthetic in the near future;
If you have any serious medical problems’
If you are pregnant or breast feeding a baby.