Your mouth is actually like a window to the rest of your body. Very often when there's something going wrong with your health, it somehow shows up in your mouth. Often, your dentist can identify some common diseases that your doctor might never find.
"I came to Dr. Kravitz for a routine visit for a nightguard and he noticed I didn't have any enamel on the backs of my teeth."
That was a sign to D.C. Dentist Dr. Joe Kravitz that his patient, Leeda Allen, was either bulimic or suffering from acid reflux.
"The outside layer of the tooth is gone or almost gone, and that can happen very quickly because the acids from the stomach are like battery acids," Kravitz said.
After asking Allen a series of questions, Kravitz determined she was probably suffering from acid reflux. That was later confirmed by her internist.
"I was completely unaware of this," Allen said. "I knew I was having some discomfort with my stomach, but I didn't know it was so severe."
"The mouth is not an independent structure," Kravitz said. "It is connected through your blood stream. It is connected through different organs, your liver, your heart and your kidneys and your eyes. So if there is something that is healthy, it shows up in the mouth and if there's something that is unhealthy, it shows up in the mouth."
Your dentist can actually identify many diseases and conditions by looking in the mouth, Kravitz said. For example, when he sees a patient with discolored gums, they often have bruising or sores on their arms and legs as well. That's a sign of type 2 diabetes.
"Say there's no plaque, but the gums are purple and red. That's probably diabetes because if you look at the skin, you'll find them on the skin as well."
High blood pressure is another condition that often manifests iteself in the gums.
"High blood pressure, where the gum tissue can look red or swollen, but there's no bleeding because increased blood flow will make them swell," he said.
And patients who come in with sweet smelling breath, rather than stinky halitosis? That's a symptom of Kidney Disease.
"You get this sweet smell and that's because the kidney cells are breaking down, so they're degrading, so they secrete out this sweet smell out of the lung tissue," Kravitz said.
All these symptoms are indictors of disease. But it's important to get checked out by your doctor. For Leeda Allen, she says she may never gotten diagnosed with acid reflux if her dentist hadn't seen the signs.
"I'm very lucky that Dr. Kravitz noticed it because my previous dentist didn't notice it and I was shocked at that," she said. "I would have lost a great deal of my teeth and my stomach and my throat and everything would have been terribly uncomfortable."