More than dental health – Mega Doctor News

More than a hundred diseases can show symptoms in the mouth. For example, periodontal disease, which results from infections and inflammation of the gums and bones that support and surround the teeth, is more common and can be more severe in people with diabetes. Image for illustrative purposes

Mega Doctor News

By Genaro C. Armas, American Heart Association News

More than a hundred diseases can show symptoms in the mouth. For example, periodontal disease, which results from infections and inflammation of the gums and bones that support and surround the teeth, is more common and can be more severe in people with diabetes.

Other times, prescription drugs can affect the mouth. For example, some medications used to treat high blood pressure can cause swollen and inflamed gums.

“We see a lot of systemic diseases with oral signs and symptoms,” said Dr. Jennifer Perkins, executive director of clinical training at the University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry.

Dentists might be able to spot red flags about a patient’s overall health even before they start rummaging around in their mouths. Perkins teaches in several courses focused on assessing and tracking patient medical histories.

“During this process, we sometimes come across important medical discoveries,” she said. Students who work with UCSF faculty find symptoms or concerns in patients every day that may require consultation or referral to a medical professional. Here are some examples.

Hypertension

A person’s blood pressure can be taken before a dental cleaning or procedure that requires local anesthesia, Perkins said. Most dental offices ask new visitors to fill out medical history forms that are updated periodically, much like a doctor’s office.

“Every contact a patient makes with the healthcare system is another opportunity for prevention, and hypertension is a classic example of a condition where it can make all the difference,” said Dr. Dhruv Satish Kazi, Professor MD at Harvard Medical. Boston School. Many dental clinics will check blood pressure, he said, “and can therefore identify patients who need treatment.”

Dentists’ offices, he added, can serve as a point of contact for other services, especially for residents of low-income or rural areas who may not have as many medical professionals.

For people who have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure, some blood pressure medications can cause dry mouth. When the salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva to keep the mouth moist, tooth decay accelerates because saliva protects against cavities. In these cases, Perkins said, dentists work with the patient’s healthcare professional to manage side effects.

Diabetes

Untreated diabetes can lead to serious medical problems, including cardiovascular disease. In some patients, Perkins said high average blood sugar can lead to disruptions in the oral microbiome – the vast collection of friendly bacteria, viruses and other microbes that live in the mouth. It could mean gum disease, bone loss and tooth loss, she said.

“We see this phenomenon where people who perceive themselves to be healthy may not go to the doctor,” Perkins said. “Because (undiagnosed) diabetes and hypertension can present without clear symptoms, we may see them first. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for us to see them.

HIV

Perkins treated people later diagnosed with HIV after finding lesions in the mouth that wouldn’t show up in someone with a functioning immune system. According to a American Heart Association Scientific Statement on cardiovascular disease and HIV.

covid

Perkins said the UCSF School of Dentistry has been testing patients for COVID-19 before dental procedures since shortly after the pandemic began in 2020 to protect students, staff and other patients. against infection. His clinic only recently switched to not requiring testing before procedures for fully vaccinated and boosted people.

Studies show the coronavirus can hurt the heart and brain. And conditions such as HIV, diabetes and possibly high blood pressure are among those that can lead to serious illness from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention.

Although dentists can detect various health conditions, Kazi cautioned against thinking that dentists are a one-stop-shop for health.

“It’s magical to think that our dental colleagues have the bandwidth to talk at length about heart disease, just as our cardiologist colleagues don’t have the time to talk more broadly about dental health,” Kazi said. “But there are enough synergies for the two to connect and improve cardiovascular screening and care.”