Get Well

Skipping the dentist can cause cavities in your health

by Claire McFarland, blogger

The fall season provides much dental damnation: caramel apples, Halloween cand,y and holiday pies and treats. In the midst of all of that sugar, it can be easy to forget how important a regular check-up is with your oral hygienist.

Let’s face it, not many people look forward to going to the dentist. The sound of the drill, the smell of fluoride and the arched chaise accessorized by a spit cup can often make dentists offices unbearable to many. In addition to the aesthetic problems, a trip to clean your teeth often seems like an optional appointment, but is it?

According to the Centers for Disease control, only 71 percent of women over the age of 18 had their teeth cleaned in 2008. This scary statistic shows that more than a quarter were skipping out on their dentist!

Recent studies in 2010 from the American Dental Association have shown that those who skip out on their bi-annual cleaning may have more to worry about than a simple cavity, as many health risks can occur by avoiding that chair.

Healthy Heart

A new study at UCLA, Berkeley, found that women who receive dental care might reduce their risk of contracting heart disease by one-third. People who have chronic infections in their gums are at high risk for stroke, heart attack and coronary artery disease. The infection around the teeth can seep into the blood stream, thicken the vessels and narrow them, causing a circulation emergency. Those with a family history of heart disease have all the more reason to dust off those pearly whites.

Cancerous Cavities

The dentist also provides more than a fluoride solution. Every time you have your teeth cleaned, hygienists are doing a visual inspection, looking for swollen or red areas. These symptoms could be identified as early stages of oral cancer. By getting checked up, women can reduce their risk of the spread of cancer. Those who smoke and drink more than one alcoholic beverage  a day should be especially careful, as they are of a high-risk group.

Nutrition Notice

By looking at your gums and tongue, your dentist can also identify key nutritients you may be lacking in your diet. Certain vitamins and nutrients can affect the appearance of the mouth and serious deficits can be recognized from one quick visit! One thing many dentists look for is a pale tongue, which can indicate an iron deficiency.

Dentist Detect Diabetes

The condition of your teeth and gums can also point to other diseases, such as diabetes. The link between oral health and this blood-glucose/insulin disorder has shown to be strong. Diabetes reduces the body’s ability to fight infection-causing tooth and gum issues and recent studies have shown that gum disease can also make it harder to fight this illness. If you have a family history of diabetes or you have been diagnosed, consider getting cleaned up three to four times a year to stay vigilant.

Although it may seem like a painstaking process to go lay in the cleaning chair, it can have instrumental effects on your health. In the current economy, many women have made claims that it is too expensive to get checked just twice a year, but consider that it’s much more expensive to have crowns and root canals later on – and much more painful, too!

So, the next time you snack on Halloween candy or get ready to bake an apple pie, remember to mark the season with a cleaning with your dentist so you have many happy and healthy holidays to look forward to for years to come.