When you have a dental examination, Dr. Fondriest looks at more than just your teeth. Early symptoms of many illnesses show up in the mouth. Good oral hygiene and paying attention to your lips, gums, cheeks, and tongue are part of keeping your whole body healthy. You should know what your mouth looks and feels like when it’s healthy, so that small problems can be detected before they become big problems.
The tongue is an important indicator of health. A white coating could indicate dehydration – easily taken care of – but it’s also a symptom of oral infections like thrush. Most oral cancers begin with, or involve, the tongue. Swollen, painful tongues can be soothed with an antibacterial rinse and by staying away from spicy foods, alcohol, and tobacco until the swelling has gone down. If swelling persists for several days, or interferes with breathing, eating, or speaking, contact your dentist immediately.
Tender spots are often canker or cold sores. These go away on their own, but will heal faster if kept clean with mouthwash or a 50-50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water. However, a sore spot could be an early sign of cancer or precancerous conditions like leukoplakia. If detected in Stage 1, the oral cancer five-year survival rate is 90%; if found at a later stage, survival drops to 50%. Though overall oral cancer rates have fallen, cases in patients under 40 have increased nearly five-fold.
Got bad breath? Halitosis can be chronic, recurring, or sudden and acute. Chronic halitosis is usually caused by poor oral hygiene; the smell comes from sulphurous compounds released by oral bacteria. A sharp, fruity smell like nail polish is a sign of ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition arising from untreated diabetes. Ammonia or fishy odors are caused by kidney failure.
Has something in your mouth changed lately? Dr. Fondriest can tell you why. Call Lake Forest Dental Arts at (847) 234-0517 today to schedule an appointment.