For some unknown reason, dentists are sometimes considered the second class citizens of the medical world. Some people actually think they are “doctors who didn’t get into medical school”. Even the nomenclature in ads and insurance companies creates that impression – “visit your doctor or dentist” they say – isn’t a dentist a doctor? Shouldn’t it be “visit your physician or dentist”?
Interestingly enough, many dentists are the ones who send their patients to their physician or to a specialist based upon their findings in the patients’ mouths. In today’s world many dental schools are an integral part of medical schools, and oral health is a requisite series of courses and residencies in order to obtain not only a DDS but an MD as well.
Many diseases lower the body’s resistance to infection, leading to severe oral health problems. Did you know that a certain kind of mouth lesion can be associated with the HIV virus? Or that oral and throat cancers can be detected by a dentist?
We have discussed what diseases might be caused by poor oral hygiene and health, but conversely, certain diseases cause poor oral health. For example, diabetes reduces the body’s ability to fight infection, which can cause serious gum disease. Osteoporosis, which results in brittle bones, may have a link to the loss of teeth. Early onset Alzheimer’s disease has been linked to tooth loss before the age of 35 when there may be no other contributing health or hygiene reasons. And an immune system disorder, Sjogren’s syndrome, causes dry mouth as do some eating disorders, such as bulimia.
Keep your dentist informed about all medications you are taking, your own and your family medical history, and see him or her regularly. Your dentist is as critical to your overall health as your internist or other medical specialist, and maintaining good communications with him or her, together with keeping up a consistently good oral hygiene routine and knowing your mouth’s “normal” can result in early detection of a more significant problem. We at TUNG Brush and Gel want healthy and informed customers!