3 health risks dentists may find
How regular dental care helps protect your overall health.
Your dentist is on the lookout for cavities and gum disease. But there’s more your mouth can reveal about your health.
Here are 3 sometimes hidden problems that regular dental visits may help uncover:
1. Signs of cancer.
Most dental exams include a screening for oral cancer. Risk factors for oral cancer may include:
- Tobacco use — both smoked and smokeless
- Alcohol use
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
Your dentist may look for signs inside your lips and cheeks; on the tongue and on the roof and floor of your mouth; and on your jaw and neck. Oral cancer is often caught early with regular dental visits.
2. Diabetes and its complications.
People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease and dry mouth, leading to problems like soreness, pain when chewing, infections, cavities and even tooth loss. When gum disease is left untreated, blood sugar may be harder to control, making diabetes difficult to manage.
3. Increased heart disease and stroke risk.
People with gum disease often have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Gum disease may also make some existing heart conditions worse.
Sources: American Academy of Periodontology; American Diabetes Association; American Heart Association; National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
*If you have a UnitedHealthcare Dental plan, please refer to your certificate of coverage for a full description of benefits.