When we think of going to the dentist, we usually think about getting our teeth cleaned, fillings or dental implants. However, many people don’t realize that dentists can also help with other health issues. While a primary care physician should always be consulted for significant health concerns, dentists can provide an additional level of support and care. In this blog post, we will explore five surprising health issues that a dentist can help anyone with.
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Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder where an individual stops breathing several times during the night. This can lead to various health issues such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. A dentist can help diagnose sleep apnea by examining the mouth and throat area, and provide custom-fit oral appliances that help keep your airways open while you sleep.
Suspecting that you may have sleep apnea can be difficult. Common symptoms include snoring, waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat, feeling excessively tired during the day, and difficulty staying asleep. If you think you might be dealing with any of these issues and want to explore further testing for sleep apnea, it is a good idea to bring it up with your dentist.
A comprehensive dental examination can help assess whether sleep apnea is the cause of your symptoms, and then you can discuss what treatment options are available. Additionally, if you have other medical conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes, these should also be discussed as they may increase the likelihood of having sleep apnea. Your dentist can work with your primary care physician to develop the best treatment plan for you.
Headaches and Migraines
If you suffer from frequent headaches, migraines, or jaw pain, it could be caused by a condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). TMD is a common disorder where the jaw joint becomes inflamed, causing pain and discomfort. A dentist can help diagnose TMD and provide treatment options to alleviate the symptoms, including mouth guards, exercises, and medications.
In order to rule out other potential causes for headaches and migraines, it is important to get a comprehensive evaluation from your dentist. During the exam, your dentist will take a full medical history and discuss any existing symptoms. They may also examine the jaw joint (TMJ) as well as other structures in the mouth, such as the teeth, gums, and tongue. After the evaluation is complete, your dentist may refer you to other medical professionals for further testing if necessary.
Additionally, it is important to keep track of the types of headaches that you experience in order to better understand what could be causing them. This will help your dentist determine an appropriate treatment plan for your particular situation and get you on the path to better health.
Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body is unable to regulate blood sugar levels. Studies have shown a strong link between diabetes and gum disease. A dentist can help manage gum disease through regular check-ups, cleanings, and periodontal treatments. By improving oral health, a dentist can also help control blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of complications associated with diabetes.
In order to tell if you may have diabetes, there are a few signs or symptoms to look out for. These include frequent urination, increased thirst and hunger, fatigue, blurry vision, and slow healing of wounds. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to speak with your primary care physician as soon as possible to get a diagnosis. Your dentist may also be able to provide additional information about how diabetes can affect your oral health and provide advice on how to manage it.
Additionally, regular check-ups with your dentist are important for monitoring any changes in your mouth that could indicate the onset of gum disease or other oral health complications associated with diabetes.
Oral cancer can go unnoticed without regular dental visits. When detected early, oral cancer is highly treatable, and your dentist is trained to recognize the early signs of oral cancer. During your routine dental exam, your dentist will examine the neck and head, search for lumps, and explore your mouth for lesions, ulcers, or irregularities.
Oral cancer can be caused by a variety of factors, including smoking, drinking alcohol, using tobacco products, and exposure to the sun. Additionally, certain types of viruses, such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), human papillomavirus (HPV), and HIV/AIDS can increase the risk of developing oral cancer. It is important to practice good oral hygiene, avoid risky behaviors such as smoking or drinking alcohol, and visit your dentist regularly in order to maintain optimal health and reduce the risk of developing oral cancer.
Additionally, if you notice any unusual changes in your mouth, such as sores that do not heal or swelling of the jaw or neck area, it is important to contact your dentist for further evaluation. Taking these precautions can help detect any potential signs of oral cancer in its early stages, when treatment is most effective.
Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can manifest as teeth grinding, clenching, and related jaw pain. These conditions can cause tooth wear, jaw pain, and headaches. A dentist can help diagnose these issues and provide treatment options such as custom-fit mouth guards, relaxation techniques, and stress management strategies to alleviate the symptoms.
One of the most effective ways to alleviate stress and anxiety related teeth clenching is to practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. Additionally, it can help to take time out for yourself during the day to focus on activities that make you feel calm and relaxed. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can also be helpful in changing the thought patterns that lead to stress and anxiety.
It is also important to get plenty of restful sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly to support good mental health. Finally, if symptoms persist it can be helpful to reach out for professional help from your dentist or primary care physician. They can provide further guidance on how best to manage your stress and anxiety.
While a dentist’s primary concern in our oral health, they can also assist with a range of other serious health problems. From sleep apnea to diabetes to eating disorders, regular visits to your dentist can help with early detection and treatment of underlying health problems. So next time you visit a dentist’s clinic, remember to mention any health concerns you’re facing in addition to your dental concerns. The dentist can provide you with a comprehensive treatment plan to address all of the issues. By working together, dental and medical professionals can help improve your overall health and wellbeing.
About the Author:
Dixie Somers is a freelance writer who loves to write for business, health, and women’s interests. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.