Regular dental visits for adults not only help maintain good oral health but dental care also contributes to overall health and wellness. Since healthy teeth and gums can help keep the rest of your body healthy, your dentist plays an essential role in spotting both dental and medical problems before they become serious.

Read on to learn how regular dental care can benefit you.

Keep Chronic Health Conditions From Worsening

Growing research suggests that oral health affects your overall general health. If you have a chronic health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or kidney disease, you are at greater risk for periodontal disease and other dental problems.

Lower immunity increases your risk of developing dental caries, periodontal disease, and oral infections, necessitating the need for regular preventive and dental care to help manage the chronic disease and the oral complications that can occur. Untreated oral infections, such as periodontitis, can make it hard to control blood glucose levels, increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, or cause chronic illnesses to flare up.

Oral health problems can cause additional pain and discomfort, disturbed sleep, and acute and chronic infections. They can also lead to chewing and swallowing problems, which can affect nutrition and metabolic processes. Even if the diseases themselves do not cause oral symptoms, the medications and treatments for the diseases can.

Detect Oral Cancer

Common in older Americans, the early signs of oral cancers of the mouth and lips include red or white patches in your mouth or throat, dentures that fit poorly, and a sore or lump in your mouth or on your lips. Tell your dentist if you have difficulty chewing, swallowing, or moving your tongue or jaw. Report any numbness in your tongue or a feeling like something is caught in your throat.

When screening for oral cancer, your dentist will visually examine your mouth, lips, and tongue. If your wear dentures, removing them allows your dentist to take a closer look inside your mouth.

Age, gender, alcohol and tobacco use, and human papillomavirus infection (HPV) are risk factors for oral cancer, but anyone can benefit from a screening to detect oral lesions. Although a painful lesion doesn’t necessarily mean you have oral cancer, it’s important to have your dentist check out any changes that occur in your mouth. Like other cancers, treatment is more effective when oral cancer is diagnosed at an early stage.

Help Reduce Transmission of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Early detection of the HIV infection that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) can lead to early diagnosis and treatment. Clinical studies suggest that early treatment of anti-HIV drugs suppresses the virus so that infected individuals are less likely to pass on the virus to others. Treatment that begins soon after diagnosis also improves survival rates.

Because HIV affect your gum health by increasing your risk for conditions like gum disease, your dentist may be able to assist you with reducing the transmission of the virus. For example, if your dentist notices that you have gum disease, he or she could then recommend that you follow up with your primary care provider, who will then run tests to make a diagnosis.

If you’re diagnosed with HIV, your doctor can recommend that you start early treatment with anti-HIV drugs to reduce the transmission and progression of the disease.

Cut Down Time Lost From Work

The American Dental Association reports that dental diseases account for approximately 164 million work hours lost each year. Gum disease alone affects approximately 47 percent of adults ages 30 and older, and the risk of developing periodontal disease increases as you get older.

The treatment for gingivitis—the earliest stage of gum disease—includes good dental hygiene and regular dental cleanings. Periodontitis—or advanced gum disease—requires a deep-cleaning method to remove plaque and tartar from along and below the gum line. If the disease has advanced to the point that inflammation remains following deep-cleaning treatment and antibiotic medications, your dentist may recommend surgery to remove the tartar.

You can prevent gum disease from becoming a serious problem by telling your dentist if your teeth are sensitive, if it hurts when you chew, and if your gums are tender or bleed. He or she will examine your gums for redness and swelling. Your dentist will also check for receding gums and loose teeth and ask you about risk factors such as chronic illness, medications, smoking, and family history of gum disease.

If you are looking for a general or family dental clinic that offers a wide variety of affordable dental care services, the dental team at All About Smiles is ready to give you a healthy smile.