It's easy for us to compartmentalize our dental health from our body's health. The truth is, however, these things may be more intertwined than you think. After all, our mouths are part of our bodies, why wouldn't one effect the other?
In recognition of Dental Health Awareness month, here is a short list of questions that you can ask your dentist the next time you're in for a check-up.
What dental health products do you recommend I use?
There are a lot of health products on the market and the dental health industry is no exception. On Amazon, in fact, there are over 10,000 listings just for the simple term "toothpaste." With so many options on the market, how can you possibly know what's best for you?
That's where your dentist comes in. Nobody is going to know more about your dental hygiene needs than your dentist. They will be able to recommend products that are safe, reliable, and tailor-made to your specific requirements. They may even recommend products that require a prescription or provide you with sample products so you can try before you buy.
What sorts of developments have there been in the area of dentistry?
Today, the speed at which technologies advance can be mind-numbing. It can be too much to expect that the average person is aware of advances in new medical technology. But if you want to stay up-to-date on the latest in dental hygiene, your dentist should be one of your first lines of contact.
This can be particularly important for patients who haven't seen a dentist in a long time. Due to advances in technology, procedures that you may have put off before may be more attainable now. Maybe they take less time, or maybe the cost has dropped to a more affordable place. There is no way you will know unless you ask.
Is there anything I should tell my family doctor?
The health of your gums, teeth, and mouth can be a big indicator as to your overall health, and nobody is going to get a better look at them than your dentist.
Many conditions can be observed early in the mouth. The National Institute of Health suggests that dental X-rays can serve as a screening tool for osteoporosis. Bleeding gums and mouth ulcers can serve as a sign of vitamin deficiencies. Ask your dentist if there is anything that they have observed that they would like to make your family doctor aware of.
And is there anything that you need to know from my family doctor?
This works in the opposite direction, as well. Just as there is some information that your dentist would like to pass on to your doctor, so too might there be information that your dentist may need to know from your general practitioner.
Your dentist will need to be aware of any medications you are taking or if the prescriptions you were taking before have changed. They should also be made aware of any sudden changes in your health—diagnoses of conditions such as heart problems or certain autoimmune conditions will be valuable information for your dentist to have.
You may see many different doctors, dentists, and other healthcare professionals over the course of your life. The human body is complex, and no one person can be expected to have all of the answers. But by asking questions, you can put yourself in a position to be more informed about your body's health, and you can arm other healthcare professionals with the tools they require to serve you best.