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“MDs don’t spend any time in the mouth and their practice is often symptomatic driven,” he says. “They take into account signs and symptoms a patient brings up. An oral exam is a proactive rather than reactive approach to health because we do a full look-around at the teeth and all the soft issue as well as checking lymph nodes and taking X-rays to check bone levels.”
While sleep apnea may show up as dissolved enamel alongside issues such as gingivitis or periodontal disease, nutritional issues, for example, can be seen in gum inflammation, tongue health, plaque buildup on and in between the teeth as well as in bone health.
Diabetes, meanwhile, may present through bone loss, inflamed and sore soft tissue around the teeth, impaired and/or delayed wound healing and dry mouth. However, because these symptoms can also be indicators of much lesser issues, Dr. McCullough warns against self-diagnosing.
“Google MD can be your worst nightmare because for every symptom you can find a gloom and doom scenario,” he says. “Plaque buildup, for example, could be something as simple as needing to floss more. Even if you’re in for a cleaning, dental hygienists are also trained to spot issues, so you are covered from various angles.”
Patients who experience an issue in between appointments, Dr. McCullough suggests, should first ensure it wasn’t caused by something within their control, such as biting into a too-hot slice of pizza, which can take time to heal.
“If you’re losing sleep because you’re in pain or something is beyond normal and you don’t have a reason why it happened, make an appointment with your dentist,” he says. “But, generally, going to a dentist regularly is a great way to monitor your overall heath and correct any issues quickly.”
For more information, visit www.capitaldentistry.com.
This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Capital Dentistry.