Going to the dentist every six months is important to keep your teeth clean, prevent decay, and to evaluate your dental and periodontal health. But dentists can also discover clues to your general health through routine dental exams. Since general physicians usually require only one exam per year, your dentist might be the first to spot early signs of developing health issues, such as high blood pressure.
Dentists are trained to evaluate for sleep apnea, which can show signs in a patient’s mouth from the shape and bite of the jaw or the weakness of the teeth due to bruxism (grinding teeth at night). Because sleep apnea can deprive the body of oxygen and put strain on the cardiovascular system, this condition can lead to heart complications such as strokes and heart attacks.1 Your dentist can determine if you are experiencing sleep apnea and can connect you with treatments to help alleviate your symptoms.
Many dental practices perform an oral cancer screening on patients during a routine cleaning, and Stanley Dentistry is one of those practices. At Stanley Dentistry, the screening involves checking your mouth and throat for lumps, sores, or other abnormalities. The dentist will also use a specialized screening light—when shined in your mouth, healthy tissue will appear dark and areas of concern will look white. Other practices may use a blue dye instead, which turns abnormalities blue when you rinse your mouth with it.
These regular screenings allow a dentist to catch oral cancer in its earliest stages, when it’s most treatable. About 60% of oral cancer patients survive for five years, and this survival rate is greatly increased when the signs are caught early.2
X-ray exams are a regular part of dental visits, and they can reveal more than just the health of the teeth and jaw. These scans can also detect tumors and other growths in the head and neck area.
Taking the time to visit your dentist regularly can benefit your overall health in the long run. If you’re near Cary, North Carolina, please feel free to call us at (number) and we will be happy to set you up with an appointment or answer any questions you might have.
1. Sleep Apnea: Living With. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Updated March 24, 2022. Accessed 29 June 2022. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/sleep-apnea/living-with
2. Oral Cancer 5-Year Survival Rates by Race, Gender, and Stage of Diagnosis. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. July 2018. Accessed 29 June 2022. https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/research/data-statistics/oral-cancer/survival-rates