Dentists can tell much about a person’s health during an exam, but there are several medical issues you might not think they can spot. Take acid reflux, for example.
Acid reflux is a common issue in which stomach acid is pushed up into the mouth. If a person has frequent acid reflux, then the condition can cause erosion of the enamel of teeth – especially those at the back of and the lower part of the mouth.
Dentists can spot such erosion, which can led to decay and ultimately tooth loss. Of course more than just acid reflux can cause such erosion – the American Dental Association notes conditions such as morning sickness during pregnancy, bulimia or habits such as continuously sucking on fruit such as an orange can be to blame, too. However, your medical history can expose the culprit.
People with chronic acid reflux can belch and can taste the reflux and are most often aware of it. However, there is also “silent” acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease – GERD) and it doesn’t exhibit the symptoms – a person does not taste it and there is no physical manifestation. So, your dental appointment for an exam and cleaning isn’t just important for the obvious reason of oral health, but also because your dentist might detect that you might have GERD – and if you do, your dentist can make a referral to a specialist who can help.