6 Non-Dental Medical Issues Your Dentist Might Discover

6 Non-Dental Medical Issues Your Dentist Might Discover

Regular visits to your dentist is an important part of your oral health care regimen. After all, healthy teeth and gums don’t just happen by themselves. What you may not be aware of is that you dentist is also one of the first lines of defense against several non-dental medical issue. Dentists typically discover these issues during a typical oral health check up – such as after a cleaning or while doing a filling. Some of the many conditions and diseases that present signs in your mouth include infections, oral cancer, diabetes, HIV, malnutrition and osteoporosis.


While in the chair, your dentist is inspecting your whole mouth – not just your teeth. If your dentist spots something that’s a little off – they may prescribe you antibiotics to fight off the problem. Oral infections are common issues that can arise for a handful of reasons, including: infection after a dental procedure; trauma to a part of your mouth or jaw; and lack of oral hygiene near a problem area. Infection can spread easily to other parts of the body – so it’s critical to treat in a timely fashion. Signs of an infection include swelling, redness around infected area, skin that is hot to the touch, fevers and drainage from the wound.

Oral Cancer

One of the more common forms of cancer, oral cancer becomes more prevalent with every passing year. When you visit your dentist, they will commonly search for signs of the disease – feeling for abnormalities or looking visual indications. Most cases appear as red and white lesions inside your mouth. If you are a heavy drinker, have been exposed to HPV, or smoke – there is a higher chance that you may have or get oral cancer in your lifetime.


Loose teeth, dry mouth, and receding, dry, and bleeding gums are just a few signs that you may have diabetes. With diabetes comes a poor immune system and an overall inability to effectively fight off diseases. This means that wounds and infections take longer to heal in the mouths of diabetic patients. Although bleeding gums can mean poor oral hygiene – it may be a sign of something more serious. If there are indications that you may be diabetic, your dentist will encourage you to see your family physician or to get a blood glucose check where available.


Oral warts, lesions, white, red, purple or brown spots on the tongue and other infections are just some of the signs of HIV in adults. These symptoms alone don’t necessarily mean that you have HIV, but a dentist who sees one of more of these signs might recommend you visit your regular health care provider for a blood test.


Poor nutrition and eating disorders will show signs in the oral cavity. Most people who suffer from bulimia will try to hide the disorder from those they care about – but it is hard to hide from a dentist. A dental professional knows key signs which indicate someone suffering from an eating disorder, such as: a dry mouth, bleeding gums, and erosion on the inside of the front teeth. Gastric acid is hard on the enamel (outside of your teeth). Forced vomiting will wear away that protective enamel and will cause intense sensitivity to heat and cold foods. If you are experiencing any sort of eating disorder, it is a good idea to consult with your regular health care provider and dentist to discuss long term effects.


Although especially common in post-menopausal women, this weakening of bones can happen anyone. Your dentist may notice tell-tale signs such as receding gum lines, and loose teeth – which both can indicate changes in the bone that supports your teeth. When a dentist spots these signs, they will usually refer you back to your health care professional for a bone density test. This test is important to your overall health.


At the end of the day, the mouth is the gateway to your whole body. Keeping a regular schedule with your dentist should be part of your overall health regimen.

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