Surprising Health Issues Your Dental Exam Can Uncover

Surprising Health Issues Your Dental Exam Can Uncover

Most people know they should be getting a dental exam regularly. While every patient will differ on how often they need to come in, a general rule is every six months to one year.

However, many patients don’t realize exactly how important a dental exam is for their health. Yes, a dental exam can prevent cavities and gum disease, but it can also uncover surprising health issues that could be detrimental to your body.

Don’t underestimate the importance of getting your smile checked out by a professional. If you have any of the following health concerns, your Asheville dentist might encourage you to follow up with your doctor after your next visit!


Patients who have diabetes are more likely to get gum disease. Most people who have gum disease will not have diabetes, but if your dentist suspects diabetes may be the issue based on your symptoms, he or she will refer you to your physician for a diagnosis.

If you have diabetes and you’re managing the disease, you won’t have an increased risk of gum disease compared to other patients. However, if you have diabetes and don’t know it, you may have uncontrolled blood sugar which could lead to more aggressive gum disease and tooth loss.

Bacteria in the oral cavity thrive on sugars, so high glucose levels in the blood can encourage bacteria to grow. In fact, the American Dental Association claims that bacteria from gum disease can enter the bloodstream which may trigger an immune response that leads to a higher blood sugar level.

Keeping your gums healthy can not only improve your oral health but has the potential to help you better manage your diabetes and reduce your risk of developing gum disease!


Anemia is a condition in which not enough red blood cells are present in the body. Symptoms of this condition may include dizziness, fatigue, trouble concentrating, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and even trouble sleeping.

If the softer tissues of your mouth are very pale, your dentist in Asheville might suspect anemia. In addition, your tongue may look smooth instead of textured or be painful or swollen.

Anemia can be diagnosed by a blood test and there are different types of anemia, so your dentist will suggest you see your doctor if you have signs of anemia during your dental exam.


Oral cancer may be localized or it may metastasize to affect additional locations in the body. Catching oral cancer through oral cancer screenings with your Asheville dentist can help you have the best chance for a successful treatment.

Oral cancer includes cancers of the lip, cheek, tongue, gums, and on the floor and the roof of the mouth. For some patients, oral cancer will take the form of lesions in the mouth, but these abnormalities can be difficult for patients to spot on their own.

During your exam at Saunders DDS, Dr. Saunders will check for signs of oral cancer. If he suspects you have oral cancer, he’ll recommend further testing to attain a diagnosis.

Heart Disease

Gum disease could put you at risk for heart disease. Bacteria involved in gum disease have been found in the arteries leading to the heart; however, a causal link has not been established.

When there’s disharmony in the body, evidence is often present in the mouth. Symptoms of gum disease including swollen, bleeding, or tender gums could be an indicator that the patient is at risk for heart disease.

If your Asheville dentist diagnoses you with gum disease, it’s imperative to get treatment to reverse the disease before it progresses and could even impact your vascular system.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

When gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is present, stomach acid can irritate the esophagus a place it would normally never be and even end up in the mouth. When these acids end up in the oral cavity, they can virtually dissolve tooth enamel.

Some patients might not necessarily have symptoms of GERD but still have the disorder. Some people even experience this illness while asleep at night and the symptoms may present as insomnia.

However, the fact remains that GERD can erode tooth enamel and ruin your smile. If your dentist sees evidence of GERD during your exam, he or she will refer you to your doctor or a gastroenterologist for a diagnosis.


Osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to weaken, won’t be obvious from your smile. However, the presence of osteoporosis may affect alveolar bone, which is the bone in your jaw that helps to support your teeth.

If your dentist in Asheville is concerned about loss of alveolar bone or is seeing a receding gum line or loose teeth, he or she may be concerned that osteoporosis is present. Talking with your doctor can help establish a diagnosis and treatment that might just save your teeth!


We all know that stress can have detrimental effects on the body. From chronic disease to premature aging, chronic disease isn’t healthy for anyone.

Stress can take its toll on your smile in the form of bruxism, or teeth grinding. Most patients grind their teeth while asleep and so don’t remember grinding their teeth, but they may wake with headaches or an aching jaw from teeth grinding.

If your dentist notices premature enamel wear and suspects teeth grinding, you may need a nightly mouthguard in addition to stress reduction techniques to help stop this habit. Fortunately, you can receive treatment at your dental practice in Asheville for teeth grinding without an outside referral.

Getting an Exam Is Easy

Your dentist plays an important role in not just keeping your teeth and gums healthy, but contributing to your entire bodily health. Since many people see their dentist more often than their doctor, your Asheville dentist is more likely to uncover these health issues.

From diabetes and anemia to heart disease and cancer, your dentist might just surprise you during your next checkup. Make an appointment with us for a comprehensive dental exam and oral cancer screening and be sure to follow up with your physician if suggested by Dr. Saunders you’ll be glad you did!

Are you ready for your next dental appointment? Call (828) 277-6060 to fix an appointment or request one online.