Most dental professionals recognize their patients by the diastima between 8-9, rather than the color of their eyes. Our main focus is on the oral cavity, so this only makes sense. Or does it? We battle all sorts of oral manifestations for our patients that are a direct result of some other condition. Think of your perio patient, who has impeccable oral hygiene, shows for their 3-month recall without fail, but continually battles with heavy bleeding, xerostomia, and inflammation. Like many medical conditions, uncontrolled diabetes impedes one of the body’s main defenses against infection, white blood cells. Diabetes seems to be a common medical condition that is getting more and more focus in the dental world. But what if it weren’t so obvious or a medical connection was not being made? We are taught in school to check outlying areas, such as cervical nodes, thyroid, etc.
Millions have been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) with many still undiagnosed. Thyroid plays a serious role in our overall health and can cause life-threatening conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, depression, and heart disease. Pregnant women with low thyroid levels can miscarriages, preeclampsia, or preterm delivery. Conditions left untreated can cause serious health problems and can be easily detected right in the dental chair.
So the next time you have a patient in your chair, remember to spend some time “outside the mouth”. You might just be a lifesaver.