Did you know that your dentist may be able to detect early signs of diabetes, osteoporosis, and even heart disease? Many people don\u2019t realize that oral health is linked to overall health until it\u2019s too late. For example, people with diabetes are more likely to develop gum disease. The best way to protect your health is to see your dentist every 6 months for a routine teeth cleaning and dental exam. The goal of preventive dentistry is to protect oral health before you lose it. This blog post is in no way meant to act as a substitute for seeing your primary care physician. If you suspect a problem with your overall health, call your doctor. 5 Medical Problems Your Teeth Can Predict 1.) Diabetes People with diabetes have difficulty resisting infection, which often leads to gum disease. Gum disease is caused by untreated plaque buildup, an invisible film of bacteria on your teeth. Fortunately, early gum disease (gingivitis) can be reversed by practicing good oral hygiene and seeing your dentist for a teeth cleaning every 6 months. If left untreated, gingivitis will develop into a serious (and incurable) gum infection called periodontal disease. If you have a family history of diabetes, talk with your dentist about ways to avoid gum disease. Signs of gum disease include bleeding gums, receding gums, bad breath, and tooth loss. If you suspect you have gum disease, schedule an appointment with our dentist as soon as possible. 2.) Heart Disease Loose teeth can be a sign of many different health issues, including heart disease. While your children or grandchildren may be happy to place teeth under their pillows, losing a tooth as an adult is cause for concern. If you lose a tooth, your first call should be to our office to schedule an appointment. Depending on the condition of your teeth and gums, we may recommend dental implants, bridges, or partial dentures. Gum disease can also be a sign of heart issues. For example, dentists know that bacteria from periodontal disease can pass through the bloodstream into your heart. If you have coronary artery disease, the gum-borne bacteria could agitate your condition. 3.) Oral Cancer Risk factors for oral cancer include smoking, abusing alcohol, human papillomavirus (HPV), and not using sun protection on the lips. According to the American Cancer Society, over 50,000 Americans will get oral or throat cancer in 2018. If you notice white or red patches inside your mouth, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible for an oral cancer screening. Bleeding sores and hard lumps are also signs you may have oral cancer. While there may be other factors to consider, it\u2019s always best to be on the safe side. 4.) Osteoporosis It\u2019s not uncommon for people with osteoporosis to have loose teeth and receding gums. Bones can get brittle with age, which is why it\u2019s important to see your dentist every 6 months. We\u2019re able to take x-rays of your teeth and jaw to monitor the health of bone tissue. 5.) Eating Disorders The body tells a story. Even if a patient tries to hide an eating disorder, our dentist may be able to tell just by looking at their teeth. For example, a patient with bulimia nervosa may have less enamel on the insides of their front teeth from vomiting. Other symptoms of an eating disorder that can show up during a routine dental exam include dry mouth, sensitive teeth, and bleeding gums. Our dentists are dedicated to helping patients maintain good oral health by providing preventive dentistry services. When you first become our patient, we\u2019ll ask you to fill out your family medical history. That way, your dentist will be able to customize dental care to your specific needs. To schedule your appointment with one of our Hudsonville dentists, call (616) 209-4024.