So many of us are guilty of not going to the dentist as often as we should. Lots of people, myself included, tend to put off an appointment until there's a problem that needs to be fixed. But getting regular check ups is really important, and it's actually about more than just your smile. A dentist can help pinpoint subtle changes to your teeth that can be a sign of a serious health issue. Once you understand the clues your teeth can give you about your overall health, you might be a lot more motivated to finally schedule that next visit.
If you don't have a lot of issues with your teeth, you might only need to get a check up and cleaning once or twice a year according to Delta Dental. That's easier said than done, however, for people who find the idea of settling into the dentist's chair anxiety inducing. I can say from personal experience that it's usually not as bad as you think it will be, and that if your dentist doesn't put your nerves at ease, you might be surprised how much of a difference simply switching doctors can make for your state of mind. And when all else fails, don't forget that sedation dentistry is an option — you can't freak out if you're knocked out.
Here are five signs that may indicate an issue that goes far beyond your oral health.
1. Loose Teeth
Unless you're a small child or an elderly person, loose teeth are not normal. But you might have more to worry about than a potential gap in your smile. Loose teeth can be early warning signs of things like heart disease and diabetes according to Everyday Health — both serious conditions that require proper diagnose and treatment. If one of your teeth is threatening to bust loose prematurely, your first call should be to your dentist — but your very next call should be to your doctor.
2. Enamel Loss
Tooth enamel protects your pearly whites from damage and decay. But the enamel itself can become damaged, too. Sometimes that can be due to Celiac disease according to Celiac Disease Foundation. Researchers haven't figured out exactly what the link between the two is, but in addition to enamel loss people with Celiac disease can also be more susceptible to cavities and canker sores, too. Because enamel is translucent, you can't really see it, according to WebMD, but you can tell it's deteriorating if you experience sensitivity, discoloration, cracks and chips, or even cupping (indentations on the teeth itself).
3. Tooth Discoloration
Having a smile that's not exactly bright white can be embarrassing, but beyond superficial concerns, it can also be an indicator of a rare disorder. If your teeth just won't brighten up no matter how often you brush and bleach them, Medline Plus noted that you could be dealing with porphyria. The rare, inherited blood disorder can cause other symptoms including abdominal pain, vomiting, respiratory problems, and seizures according to the Mayo Clinic.
4. Bleeding Or Swollen Gums
Your gums are just as important to assess as your teeth when it comes to your health. Bleeding gums are a relatively common complaint, but that doesn't mean you can ignore them forever. They can be a sign of periodontitis, and if you're pregnant, it's something you definitely want to stay on top of. That's because it's been linked to premature births and low birth weights, according to the Mayo Clinic.
5. Receding Gum Line
If your grin is seeming a bit toothier than normal lately, you may be dealing with receding gums. The condition can be linked to osteoporosis, a disease that causes bone density loss according to Dentistry IQ. Receding gums coupled with loose teeth definitely necessitate a check up.