3 Health Conditions That Your Dentist May Be The First To Suspect

13 October 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Articles


Everyone knows the importance of getting regular dental checkups and cleanings for good oral health. But did you know that, sometimes, dental checkups can be the first step in getting diagnosed for a medical condition? Here what you need to know about 3 medical conditions your dentist may be the first to suspect. 

Celiac disease

What it is: Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the gastrointestinal tract when gluten is in the diet. It affects the teeth and oral cavity, because the small intestine is unable to extract nutrients from foods due to being damaged by gluten. Additionally, people with celiac often vomit when they eat foods that contain gluten. Poor nutrition and continual vomiting causes the teeth to be susceptible to caries and prone to breakage. 

Who to see: If your dentist suspects this condition, he or she will refer you to your primary care physician or a gastroenterologist, depending on the requirements of your health insurance policy.  

Medical treatment: If diagnosed, you'll need to make a significant lifestyle change in the foods you eat and the products you use to completely avoid gluten. There is no medical treatment for celiac disease, which means strict avoidance is necessary. 

Dental treatment: Since you will need to avoid gluten, it's important that gluten-free oral care products are used at home and in the dental office. 

Thyroid disease

What it is: The thyroid regulates metabolism throughout the body. It produces hormones that controls the metabolic rate of major organs and body systems, including the heart, brain, digestive system and the musculoskeletal system. Problems with the digestive system and bone growth can be seen in the oral cavity with caries, periodontal disease, abnormal taste, large tongue, burning mouth syndrome and dry mouth. 

Who to see: Your dentist will refer you to an endocrinologist or your primary care physician for a medical evaluation. 

Medical treatment: With a diagnosis of a thyroid condition, your doctor will begin a regimen of medication for treatment to regulate and/or stimulate the hormone production in your thyroid.

Dental treatment: Due to the location of the thyroid gland and its close proximity to the oral cavity, a thyroid collar will need to be used when getting dental x-rays. Your dentist will want your thyroid function to be under control before providing you with treatment and care in the dental office. The reason for this is due to the cardiac comorbidity of thyroid conditions, as well as risks of increased bleeding and susceptibility to infections. 

Trigeminal neuralgia

What it is: Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition that causes shock-like pain in the cheek and jaw, which mimics symptoms of dental problems like infections and cracked teeth. The pain is usually triggered by sensations, such as heat and/or cold and when chewing on foods, which also causes patients to believe they have a severe toothache or an abscessed tooth, and they make a dental appointment. It's believed that this condition is caused by abnormality of or damage to the trigeminal nerve. 

Who to see: Your dentist will refer you to your primary care physician or a neurosurgeon for a medical evaluation. 

Medical treatment: Trigeminal neuralgia can be effectively treated with anti-seizure medication. However, sometimes people require more extensive treatment, which may include acupuncture, gamma knife treatment, and/or brain surgery. 

Dental treatment: Due to the extreme pain of this condition, it is crucial that it is under control before you attempt to have dental care. Depending on the severity of this condition and the triggers that set off the pain, you may need to have sedation dentistry services for all examinations and treatments in the dental office. If this becomes necessary, contact a professional office like Family Dental Center TriCities, PC and see if they offer these services.