Dentists can tell a lot from examining your teeth. Often erosion of enamel, bad breath and chipped teeth can be signs of something else.
Child abuse is defined as any act that jeopardizes or prevents a child’s physical or emotional health or development. Beyond being able to tell whether basic dental hygiene and care is being neglected, dentists can also tell other things from their examination.
Fractured incisors (front teeth) can be an indication of a child being struck with a fist or object, or from a tumble down the stairs that may not have been accidental. Like their physician counterparts who much report any signs of abuse to officials, dentists must do the same if they feel there is sufficient evidence to support their suspicion of abuse.
Burned lips may be a sign that a child is being force fed hot foods. Bruised lips can be a sign of forced pacifier use. Bruising of the frenum (the little piece of skin that holds the tongue down) may be signs of forced bottle feeding.
Oral or perioral syphilis or gonorrhea, veneral warts, or palatal petechial (small purplish spot) or erythema (inflammation) may be indicators of sexual abuse.
Asthma can also affect dental health. Or more specifically the muscle relaxants used to treat asthma symptoms. Dental caries (cavities) and gingivitis are more prevalent in asthmatics because of the decreased flow of saliva – which is a side effect of these medications. Saliva reduces the alkalinity of the mouth which keeps cavity-causing bacteria in check.
Asthmatics should rinse with plain water 4 times per day. The water will help keep gum tissues moist.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
With GERD, stomach acid may settle in the mouth or throat resulting in bad breath and wearing away of tooth enamel after prolonged periods of exposure.
It is important to learn how to manage GERD not only because of the long-lasting physiological effects, but because of the damage it can do to dental tissues and structures.