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There’s no denying it—the dentist has a bad reputation. Whatever the reason, not a lot of people enjoy going to the dentist at all, let alone for the recommended two times per year.
You brush your teeth twice a day and even floss regularly, isn’t that enough? Not exactly. Visiting the dentist isn’t only important for your oral health. It’s also an opportunity for the dentist to look for other health conditions you may have. Problems and infections in the mouth can indicate the possible presence of medical issues elsewhere in the body.
“Regular dental visits are extremely important for overall health,” says Dr. Steven Moriconi, Chief of the Dental Division and Program Director of the General Practice Dental Residency at Abington Memorial Hospital. “As we have seen, many medical problems manifest themselves in the mouth or are caused by conditions which can only be picked up by the dentist. Many people only visit the dentist when they perceive a problem, but regular care and good oral hygiene are essential to maintaining not only a healthy smile, but a healthy body.”
To control bacteria levels in the mouth, proper oral hygiene, such as daily brushing and flossing, must be practiced. Without such proper hygiene and frequent visits to your dentist, there’s no way of knowing if your mouth is trying to tell you something about an undiagnosed health condition.
If a person’s immune system is weak as a result of disease or certain medications, for example, he or she might be more susceptible to infections in the mouth. Additionally, medicine for certain conditions can affect the health of your mouth and cause problems such as dry mouth. When this happens, it can increase your risk of dental decay and other infections.
Your oral health may affect medical conditions, such as diabetes, and make them more difficult to manage. Medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, pregnancy and birth, HIV/AIDS, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease can also be complicated by poor oral health.
By examining your mouth, your dentist can look for signs or symptoms of diseases you didn’t know you had. As a result, he or she can refer you to a specialist who can diagnose and treat the problem.
In addition to visiting your dentist regularly and brushing and flossing your teeth daily, it’s important to practice other good hygiene habits. This includes a healthy diet, limiting snacks, replacing your toothbrush every three to four months, and visiting your dentist regularly.
A quick visit to your dentist is worth a lifetime of good health.