Regular Dental Exams Protect More Than Oral Health
The eyes may be windows to the soul, but it’s dental health that is often a window into the general health of a person. That’s why a dentist is often the first healthcare professional to notice the telltale signs of an underlying medical condition that a patient — in for a routine dental exam — may be unaware of. After all, the human body is an interconnected whole, so a problem with one part of the body can and often does manifest in another part.
Some of these problems are minor, but sleep apnea can be life threatening because of the strain it puts on the body. Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by episodes during sleep when the person stops breathing for 10 seconds or longer. The episodes reduce the amount of oxygen available for the body and can lead to serious health consequences — high blood pressure coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure and stroke — if left untreated.
During a dental exam, a patient may mention having morning headaches or being tired a lot, things that don’t seem to be related to dental health. Or the patient might report having frequent dry mouth or dry throat, things a dentist is likely to hear before a person’s doctor does. Other symptoms common in patients with sleep apnea include nightmares, snoring, depression, irritability, mood swings or weight gain.
The dentists at Downtown Dental Associates of Portland are trained to look for these symptoms and discuss them with patients. It’s why they are often the first to tell a patient to seek an evaluation for sleep apnea.
So don’t be surprised if your dental exam turns to a discussion about your general health and even provides an early warning for a condition you haven’t yet noticed.
At Downtown Dental Associates of Portland, we care about your general health as much as we care about your dental health. Call us today if you have any questions about your dental health. We’re here to help.