Posted by Dr. William Yoo
After visiting their registered dental hygienist for a routine checkup, most people leave the office feeling confident about the state of their dental health. Besides providing professional teeth cleaning, dental professionals scrutinize your teeth and mouth for early warning signs of oral and body health issues.
Studies have shown that the condition of your mouth is a good indicator of your overall health. Dental professionals are able to identify early signs of anaemia, diabetes, and even cancer from an oral exam. In addition to health conditions, a registered dental hygienist can also discover your favourite treats or bad habits from checking your mouth. Below are some things that an oral exam can reveal about you.
You Don’t Floss
Some people try to deceive their dental hygienist by exercising good oral hygiene just before the dental visit. If you only floss your teeth the night before your visit, your gums will be bleeding or appear damaged, because you were trying to overcompensate for missed flossing, whereas healthy gums should look pink and tight.
You Bite Your Nails
Nail biting damages your teeth in ways that may not be visible to you. However, your dental hygienist may identify the signs, including cracks and chips of the teeth, and wear and tear of tooth enamel from the stress of the teeth coming in hard contact every time you bite through a nail. Biting your nails can cause uneven wear on your teeth, leading to jaw pain and discomfort.
You Are Expecting
Studies show that nearly 40 percent of women develop pregnancy-related gingivitis due to the increased production of progesterone. This hormone, unfortunately, also facilitates the multiplication of bacteria, increasing the risk of gum disease. Some women develop a benign pregnancy tumour that appears as a deep red lump on the gums, and usually disappears soon after delivery.
You Are Struggling with Alcohol
People who drink a lot of alcohol often have a dry mouth because of its dehydrating effect. Reduced saliva secretion facilitates the growth of cavity-causing bacteria, making alcoholic patients prone to cavities. Alcoholics also have a distinct oral smell and ‘chipmunk red cheeks.’
You Have Oral Cancer
One of the reasons to schedule a dental visit at least once a year is for the early detection of cancer. An oral exam can reveal early signs of oral cancer, such as white/red/speckled patches in the mouth, unexplained oral bleeding, swellings, lumps on the lips/gums/oral tissues, thickenings, and a change in your bite. If any warning signs are discovered, you can then be referred to an oral surgeon for a biopsy.
A registered dental hygienist may also be able to notice things about your eating habits from an oral exam. Things like vitamin deficiency and eating disorders have distinct effects on your teeth and gums that could damage your oral health.