You might not think much of it, but keeping a routine dental check-up could possibly save your life for real. While check-ups may come across as some tedious thing to keep up with, some have noted that early diagnosis can nip specific complications in the bud. These issues include oral cancer, which—if treated early—could even be curable.
Unfortunately, keeping to one’s dental health beyond toothbrushing doesn’t seem to be a high priority for most. For the most part, there’s been a considerable disconnect between dentistry and other medical fields. Because dentistry primarily treats the teeth, there’s usually a distinction between “health” and “oral health” in its classification. One could say that this distinction connotes the health of one’s mouth is separate from the rest of their body.
But this is far from the truth. While oral health may be a more specialized field, it still impacts your overall fitness through and through.
In a previous post, we looked into the death of Deamonte Driver in 2007. While this may be one of the more extreme cases, it does highlight how dental health ties up with the rest of the body. Mouth disease, if left unrecognized and untreated, could disrupt your life in destructive ways. Your routine dental check-up could then save you a lot of future problems—and perhaps, your life.
Dental check-ups detect early warning signs of serious complications
Over time, the condition of your teeth could change without you noticing it. There’s only so much your oral hygiene routine could do. Without the specialized tools of a dentist, you can’t see much of your teeth’s state. While they may look healthy and clean on the surface, your teeth may harbor some unseen problems.
Early detection comes particularly handy in cases of oral cancer. A blog by the American Dental Association (ADA) recounts the story of Hunter Jones, a 4-year-old girl with neuroblastoma. Dr. Harlyn Susarla, Jones’ dentist, noticed that the little girl had several loose teeth too early. While the cause was not immediately apparent, several follow-up check-ups later Dr. Susarla found a tumor developing in Jones’ jaw. Eventually, she received immediate treatment and is currently in remission.
Dental check-ups help paint a picture of your overall health
Dental check-ups are usually comprehensive enough to spot any abnormalities. Done regularly, the dentist could paint a picture of your oral health. This understanding makes detections even quicker, and consequently, faster to treat.
In the context of the medical field, regular dental screenings also cut down on any probable causes of disease. In Driver’s case, the source of his sickness was an abscessed tooth, but because his family could not afford the dental operation did not push through with the extraction. The bacteria from the area eventually spread to his brain, and after various surgeries, died.
Unfortunately, this is a problem that persists throughout the medical industry. Because dental care is placed on the sidelines, access to it becomes less of a priority. This issue, in turn, affects more vulnerable populations, such as Driver’s family.
Until we can entirely shift the paradigm on oral health and the dental practice, it’ll take a while for dental check-ups to become the norm. But for those who make their 6-month schedule, go. It might just save your life.