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5 Health Problems That Your Dentist Can Spot

April 7, 2014

A connection has already been established how one’s oral health affects his heart. And with mounting appreciation towards having a holistic view on overall health, it comes as no surprise that a dentist can detect existing or potential health problems when you go for dental checkups. For people who have regular oral examinations, their dentist may be the first health care provider to diagnose a health problem in its early stages.

Here are five health problems that your dentist can spot:

Heart disease

The food you eat that are bad for your teeth? More often than not, they are also bad for your heart. Foods high in sugar also have unhealthy ingredients like trans-fatty acids that are associated with increasing chances of having heart disease.

It's also possible for cavities themselves to threaten your heart, if the bacteria that produce them find their way into your cardiovascular system. Bacteria associated with tooth and gum disease may also be involved in stroke, diabetes, and respiratory problems—so brush and floss every day.

Studies have shown people with moderate or advanced gum (periodontal) disease are more likely to have cardiovascular disease (CVD) — including heart disease and stroke — than those with healthy gums (no gum disease, gingivitis or early periodontitis).


Again, it all comes down to what you eat. A dentist will notice if you consume too many sugary treats and drinks – it will show on your teeth! Continuous acid attacks on teeth enamel make one prone to develop cavities and aside from the possibility that oral hygiene is not that great, a person must have high exposure to fermentable carbohydrates. This type of diet makes one prone to developing obesity.

A dentist who knows your medical history may ask about your eating habits, but you should feel free to ask if what's happening to your teeth might be a sign of other problems.


Aside from developing obesity, you are also raising your risk for diabetes. A tell-tale sign is the smell of acetone on the breath. Patients might also suffer from recurrent multiple gum abscesses.

Long-term and continuous intake of food bad for your teeth leads to dental disease, and then, if not modified, leads to other health diseases. Remember, a healthy mouth is key to overall health!

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, people with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease and other oral health problems. Researchers think this is because diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection and slows the healing process, which causes the gums to be among the tissues most impacted and creates a higher tendency for people with diabetes to lose more teeth.


Harmful lifestyle habits like smoking not only can produce tooth discoloration and periodontal destruction, it can lead to oral cancer. The carcinogens in tobacco products, alcohol and certain foods — as well as excessive exposure to the sun — increase the risk of developing oral cancer. During routine checkups, your dentist should screen for oral cancer and other cancers of the head and neck, including skin cancer, cancer of the jawbone and thyroid cancer. He or she can feel for lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, cheeks and oral cavity, and thoroughly examine the soft tissues in your mouth.

Kidney Disease

When the kidneys do not function properly, they release by-products of incomplete protein breakdown. As a result, a patient with kidney disease may have bad breath and may also notice an unpleasant taste in the mouth. Other signs are dry mouth and a metallic taste. With dry mouth, the amount of saliva is reduced and its normal cleansing effect is diminished. This allows bacteria to increase, potentially leading to the development of gingivitis and gum disease.

Other conditions that can be detected by dentists:

  • Leukemia: Swollen and enlarged gums, bleeding gums and ulceration of the mouth are all early indicators.
  • Osteoporosis: The bones that hold the teeth can be spotted for signs of osteoporosis on a dental X-ray.
  • Hodgkin's Disease: A sometimes fatal disease of the lymphatic system. Swollen lymph nodes, a symptom, can be detected in the mouth.
  • Addison's Disease: Affects the adrenal glands resulting in weight loss, severe fatigue and lowered resistance to infection. It can be detected from changes in the pigmentation of the oral tissue and gums.
  • HIV: Indicators in the mouth include ulcers, enlarged tonsils, thrush infections, growths and severe gum disease.

Get checked

A dental checkup is more than just a cleaning. It can save your life!

Oral health is more than just about having clean teeth. While at your next oral hygiene appointment, the dental hygienist will review the integrity of your teeth and gums in order to help prevent or treat gingivitis, periodontal disease, or oral cancer. At Indianapolis Dentistry, your overall health is important to us because we practice whole body dentistry.

We care so much about preventive care that we have shaped our 5-year warranty program around keeping regular cleaning appointments. As long as you continue to keep your oral hygiene visits every 6-months you can be eligible for free replacement or repair of Dr. Reese’s dental work within the previous 5-years. And if you’ve already had dental treatment, existing patients can be grandfathered into this program.   Call 317-882-0228 to schedule your appointment today!