Your dental care team is not only trained to recognize and treat disease conditions related to the teeth, but they are also skilled in assessing systemic health conditions that manifest symptoms in the mouth, head and neck. This is why part of your comprehensive care includes a medical health history review, as well as listing any medications that you’re currently taking. You may not have realized it, but every time your dentist and hygienist are looking in your mouth, they’re looking at so much more than your teeth.
Diseases or Deficiencies
Many health conditions will have oral manifestations that are evident to your dental care provider. Sometimes these conditions may be completely undiagnosed and the patient unaware that they are experiencing it until their dentist makes them aware. Some examples of symptoms often seen in the mouth are for conditions like: Gastrointestinal reflux disease (or other intestinal diseases), sexually transmitted diseases, anemia, Sjögren syndrome, lupus, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and many drug induced conditions.
Oral cancer is best treated when diagnosed at very early stages. A comprehensive cancer screening will also involve assessment of the lymph nodes in your head and neck. These areas are palpated to identify irregularities that require referral. Oral cancers are typically seen on the borderline of the lower lip, inside the lips, on the side of and under the tongue.
By being completely open with your dentist about your health history, you can receive more detailed and comprehensive care based on key risk factors that you may have experienced. Certain medical conditions may contraindicate specific dental procedures and disclosing them is the best way to ensure your safety during all treatment.
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