When we see a patient in our office for a routine 6 month check up and cleaning, we look at so many aspects of their dental health before venturing to their teeth. After all, the teeth are not the only important part of one’s oral health!
During your exam, we are on the lookout for:
• Evidence of lip dryness and small lacerations on the lips that can lead to lip cancer.
• Dryness of the oral tissue (tongue, gums, cheeks) which can lead to numerous problems such as uncontrolled decay activity, early loss of the teeth, etc.
• Evidence of abnormal acidic activity in the mouth that can suggest poor dietary habits but also could be a result of a serious digestive problem as well. Left untreated/undiagnosed, this could be life-threatening.
• Sores/growths/blemishes/inconsistency in the tissues that can be an indicator of oral cancer.
• Some vitamin deficiencies that can be discovered and addressed by the appearance of the tongue. And many more.
Did you know…?
Redness at the corners of the mouth could be a result of a yeast overgrowth that can extend beyond the mouth, often all the way into the digestive tract, which can require more of a systemic approach versus topical treatment.
People with red fiery tongues may also have an iron deficiency.
Some mouth sores can suggest the presence of a food allergy.
The mouth is the opening to the digestive tract and digestion starts in the mouth. If you are gluten intolerant you probably have sores in your intestinal tract, but they can also show up in the mouth as small, painful recurrent canker sores.
Burning mouth syndrome can also be a sign of a systemic allergy. Something as simple as cinnamon-flavored toothpaste or chewing gum could cause an allergic response to someone with a cinnamon allergy.
Bad breath can be a sign of gum disease, but it may grow deeper to the bacteria where the stomach and oesophagus meet, so, if the teeth and gums are not the cause we recommend that the patient sees their primary care physician for further symptoms.
So don’t ignore the signs. Don’t “Google it”. Visit your dentist regularly for an in-depth evaluation.