We all want a bright, healthy smile for cosmetic reasons. And of course, no one enjoys having cavities filled or root canals performed. So, you understand the importance of taking care of your dental health and visiting your dentist regularly. But did you also know that your teeth can tell you a lot about your health overall?
Damaged enamel is a sign of acid reflux. If your dentist notices damaged enamel on your teeth, chances are good that you’re also suffering from acid reflux. The condition can develop gradually as we age, and can start off feeling like mild, occasional heartburn. But over time, your stomach acid can do major damage to your teeth.
Tooth loss can be a sign of osteoporosis. If you begin to lose teeth, you would be right to suspect something wrong with your dental health (such as gum disease). But osteoporosis can be another culprit. The disease causes weakening of the bones, and you might become aware of it through lost teeth or significant injuries (such as fractures) from minor accidents.
Osteoporosis is more common in women, due to hormonal changes which contribute to weaker bones, but men can get it too. If you begin to lose teeth, a screening for osteoporosis is in order.
Dry mouth, changes in taste, and tooth loss can be a sign of kidney disease. Your kidneys are responsible for filtering waste out of the blood, but they might not function well if you have a compromised immune system or chronic inflammation. All of these problems are also linked to gum disease, which can cause loose teeth. If you suffer any of the above dental symptoms, you should have your kidneys checked as well.
Poor dental hygiene might be a sign of cognitive decline. When an older person suddenly exhibits dental problems despite a healthy history, cognitive decline can be the culprit. This might be a sign that they are not able to properly care for themselves anymore and require assistance either in the home or in a nursing facility.
Teeth grinding can indicate sleep apnea. If your dentist observes signs that you’ve been grinding your teeth in your sleep, you should be checked for sleep apnea. This condition can cause you to stop breathing in your sleep, but is also linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, dementia, and liver problems.
Regular dental checkups are important to maintaining your oral health but can also offer insight into your medical condition. Make sure to see your dentist twice per year for regular checkups and follow up with your primary physician when warranted.