While cavities and plaque build-up may be what’s on your mind before a teeth cleaning, your dentist is looking for a whole lot more. Often, diseases like cancer, anemia and diabetes will first be identified by the dentist in a regular examination, and this saves lives. And it’s not just diseases—dentists can discover everything from your bad habits to your favorite beverages simply by asking you to say, “Ahh!”
1. You flossed right before your appointment—and that’s the only time. Sorry, but you can’t fool your dentist into thinking you floss daily by doing so the night before or morning of your visit. The gums of people who only floss right before a visit are bleeding or look damaged whereas, healthy gums are nice and tight and pink.
2. You’re pregnant. Nearly 40% of women will develop gingivitis during their pregnancy. This is caused by increased progesterone, which facilitates the growth of bacteria, causing gingivitis. Some women will develop a deep red lump on their gums called a pregnancy tumor or pyogenic granuloma. (This type of tumor is completely benign and will go away after the pregnancy is over.)
3 . You bite your nails. Without looking at your hands, your dentist in Camberwell may be able to detect this habit. Signs include chips and cracking of the teeth, plus wear and tear on the teeth from the constant stress on them. This can cause your teeth to become uneven and lead to jaw pain and discomfort. People that bite their nails using their front teeth usually have leveled off, flat front teeth. The nails themselves are not what cause the damage, but rather the contact that occurs between the top and bottom teeth.
4. You used to suck your thumb. Most children that suck their thumbs or a finger have no long-term effects from the habit. However, those who did so past the age of seven or eight may show significant changes to their bite or the position of their teeth. Much of that can be corrected through orthodontic treatment, but some telltale signs can remain.
5. Your bad breath may mean something. General bad breath can be categorized as halitosis. But your dentist in Camberwell is also trained to identify “fruity” smells and “fishy” smells, which can mean numerous things. ‘Fruity’ breath could indicate uncontrolled diabetes or a dietary fast that has gone too far, while ‘fishy’ breath could be a sign of kidney or liver failure. If the smell is “very foul,” it could be anything from gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) to an underlying lung abscess and bronchitis to a tonsil stone. The first thing the dentist should do is rule out the odor coming from the teeth and gums. After that, he should recommend that the patient see an ENT to rule out sinus issues, and a GI doc to rule out reflux issues.
6. You may have an eating disorder. Many patients are surprised that their dentist is the first one to ask about eating disorders but bulimia exhibits a very distinct pattern of tooth wear that your dentist in Camberwell can easily identify. This erosion happens almost exclusively on the tongue-side of the front teeth and can contribute to increased cavities. But acid erosion on the back of a patient’s teeth does not always indicate an eating disorder. Other possibilities include acid reflux and the use of antidepressants or mood-elevating drugs, both of which reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth, thereby upping the odds of acid damage.
7. You have a vitamin deficiency. A deficiency of vitamins and minerals can cause many oral conditions, like burning tongue syndrome, tissue sloughing off, increased infections, delayed healing, bone infections, and easy-to-bleed gums. Surprisingly, iron deficiencies show up in many ways in your mouth. It can give some patients severe sores in the corners of their mouth while others have changes in their tongues. Some may experience a painful burning sensation, or all the small papillae fall off their tongue leaving it glossy and smooth. Getting more iron will solve these problems.
8. You have diabetes. Many times, imbalances in sugar will show a rapid change in the health of your gums, including increased swelling, bleeding, and sensitivity. In conjunction, the consistency of saliva may change, and there may be increased decay. These may all be signs of sugar levels that are out of control, so your dentist in Camberwell can alert patients to see their doctor to check for diabetes.