Although many people are concerned with their dental health for their looks, at least one doctor says that dental health gives physicians an insight into a patient's overall health.
In the latest issue of General Dentistry, Dr. Mohamed Bassiouny, a professor of restorative dentistry at Temple Universitys Kornberg School of Dentistry, notes the case of a patient whose teeth had eroded from stomach acid, which is typically associated with eating disorders like bulimia.
But by looking at her entire health and dental record, Bassiouny was able to identify the patient's problem as dysmenorrheal, which causes severe menstrual cramping and forced stomach acid up her esophagus and into her mouth.
Bassiouny points out that dentists should do more than just find cavities and fill them. Looking into patients' habits, heredity, race and lifestyle can give a physician insight into their diet, mental health, stress level and whether or not they use drugs.
Some patients might think a symptom is normal, but in Bassiouny's opinion, dentists can both treat their dental health and direct them toward getting help for other health problems.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 12 percent of American adults report that they have not seen a dentist within the past five years.
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