Health Watch: Many conditions manifest in the mouth - WRBL

Health Watch: Many conditions manifest in the mouth

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A 10 year study finds too many Americans lack access to preventative dental care. Dental experts say skipping out on the care may mean missing certain medical conditions that manifest in the mouth.

Kellie Alexander has been a dental hygienist with Dr. Henry Cook’s office for 11 years. She’s not surprised at the study’s findings. The 10 year study found 23 to 43 percent of Americans did not receive preventative dental care.

Alexander says as a dental hygienist, she’s the first line of defense when it comes to being able to spot certain conditions

“I’m actually looking at the entire mouth. The soft tissue, the hard pallet, your gums, your lips, everything inside the mouth, not just your teeth, everything that surrounds the teeth, that attaches the teeth to the bone,” said Alexander.

Many conditions manifest in the mouth including gastrointestinal diseases, hematologic disorders and other conditions.

“HIV is one of them. Diabetes,Leukemia.”

Dentists often look for oral cancers and signs of osteoporosis in women. Bone loss in the jaw could mean bone loss elsewhere. Enamel loss could signal acid reflux.  Alexander suggests a preventative dental care regiment that includes x rays, and regular teeth cleaning, an appointment that could shine the spotlight on what lurks inside.

Alexander says let’s not forget preventative care when it comes to gum disease. Bushing in the morning and before bed, flossing daily to remove food particles and plaque between teeth and along the gum line, and rinsing with a mouth wash are solid tips.

Teresa Whitaker

In addition to co-anchoring the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights, Teresa serves as the Healthwatch reporter for WRBL. More>>

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