Dental Procedure Pain: Get the Facts

3 Underlying Issues Dentists May Be Able To Diagnose During A Routine Cleaning

Brushing and flossing are important steps if you want to have healthy and appealing teeth and gums. However, brushing and flossing alone is not always effective for removing stubborn food residue and plaque buildup. Therefore, the importance of professional dental cleanings should be easy to see.

Most dentists recommend professional cleanings and a checkup every 6 months or at least once a year for preventing heavy buildup of food, bacteria, and plaque while reducing the risk of cavities, decay, and gum disease. While surprising to learn, these cleanings and checkups can be beneficial for diagnosing other issues affecting your health and wellness. Here are a few surprising issues your dentist may be able to recognize during a basic cleaning/checkup.

Stress/Anxiety Disorders

You may be surprised to learn your teeth may show signs of an undiagnosed stress or anxiety disorder. If your dentist sees worn enamel or damaged teeth, you may be asked if you are experiencing any stress.

Stress is a common cause of bruxism, which is the constant clenching of the jaw and grinding of the teeth. Although most common at night while you are sleeping, you may grind your teeth during the day if you are experiencing any stress.

Worn enamel and chipped teeth from bruxism can lead to a variety of dental issues, such as decay and cavities. In addition, many people with bruxism suffer from TMJ disorder, which causes a popping, clicking, and pain of the jaw joint.

Your dentist may recommend wearing a mouthguard to reduce the stress on your smile. Learning healthy ways to cope with stress and anxiety is also wise, so consult a mental health professional for counseling. 

Eating Disorders

On average, 10 million women and 1 million men are currently living with (and possibly hiding) eating disorders. If you have anorexia nervosa or bulimia, you may hide the disorders from your friends and family, but you will not be able to hide the disorders from your dentist.

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by eating very little food to the point where you are malnourished. This malnutrition may be evident in your body and also your teeth and gums. Your teeth may begin to discolor and even decay. Your jaw will lack the strength it needs to support your teeth, meaning you could lose multiple teeth.

If you have bulimia, the signs of this eating disorder will be even more noticeable by your dentist. Most people with this disorder binge eat and then purge, vomiting the food they consumed.

Binge eating on sugary, salty foods can decay your teeth over time, and the stomach acids in food can wear down tooth enamel, as well. Many people with bulimia also develop mouth sores due to the constant vomiting and buildup of digestive juices/acids. Combined together, living with bulimia can wreak havoc on your smile.

If you have an eating disorder, visiting a mental health professional and your primary care physician will be recommended. While your dentist can help restore your smile, therapists and doctors will be needed to manage the eating disorder and treat any other medical conditions that have arisen because of it.

Oral Cancers

During a routine checkup and cleaning, your dentist will also be able to see any signs of oral cancer. Here are a few early warning signs of oral cancer:

  • Sores or lumps inside the mouth
  • Red or white lesions in the mouth
  • A lump or feeling of a lump sensation in the throat
  • Numbness or tenderness in the mouth or throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pain or discomfort in the mouth
  • Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
  • Unexplained loose teeth
  • A chronic sore throat

If your dentist notices one or more of these signs, further testing that involves a biopsy or scans may be necessary. Early intervention is imperative for successful diagnosis and treatment that is both effective and efficient.

To protect the look and health of your smile as well as other areas of your physical and emotional well-being, consider scheduling a routine dental checkup and cleaning at a clinic such as Family Dentistry Of Woodstock.