As a popular Florida dentist, we’ve seen a lot of patients. It always surprises them when we can tell things about them that they’ve never told us. As much as we’d like to say it’s because we’re psychic, that’s not true. It’s because, as dentists, you learn to figure out things about your clients, just from a glance at their mouths.
You don’t have to worry, though. We can’t tell things like your bank account number or what you do on your evenings off. No, the things we can figure out are more mundane but no less critical to our profession. A lot of the time, we don’t even mention anything, even though we notice it. But what are these subtle hints that your mouth offers to your dentist? In this article, we’ll explore a few facts your dentist knows about you from the time you open your mouth.
1. You Haven’t Been Flossing Regularly
You’re a responsible adult, and you know you should be flossing after every meal. The problem is that you probably never do so. The night before your dentist’s visit is exceptional, and a lot of patients put extra care into flossing then. We see you. We know what you’ve been doing. When a dentist is looking into a patient’s mouth, it’s immediately apparent if they’ve been flossing regularly, or if they made an effort just to come in for their checkup. The gums of patients who floss right before a visit look raw and damaged. Healthy gums, on the other hand, are tight and pink, with no scoring on them. The next time your dentist in Florida asks you about whether you floss regularly, he probably already knows the answer.
2. You’re a Nail-Biter
People deal with anxiety in different ways. Some people tend to bite their nails. The Verge notes that as many as 20% to 30% of the population are nail-biters. Your dentist in Florida is going to be able to tell that you bite your nails, and he doesn’t even have to look at them. Biting your nails leads to cracks and chips on your teeth that are apparent to any dentist. Those that use their front teeth to nibble on their nails tend to have flat, even teeth at the front. The cracks and chips that occur with nail-biting have little to do with the nails themselves. The wear and tear happen when the top and bottom teeth come together, leading to added stress on the teeth.
3. You Have an Eating Disorder
This particular fact is one that we tend to broach with a lot of caution. Many patients with eating disorders go to great lengths to hide them. It usually surprises them when we ask about their eating disorders because they think that we can’t tell. Dentists are trained to spot the telltale signs to tooth wear associated with complications like bulimia. The Journal of Evidence Based Dental Practice mentions that dentists can spot the tooth erosion signs of bulimia, based on previous examples of similar disorders. The front teeth erosion pattern is distinctive with bulimia. A secondary diagnosis using erosion of the back teeth is also possible. Unfortunately, because of the tendency of acid-erosion to follow a similar wear pattern, dentists may mistake one for the other.
4. You’re Expecting
When we examine a patient, we usually look for signs of gingivitis. The European Journal of Dentistry notes that not many women are aware that pregnancy gingivitis exists as a condition. The incidence of pregnancy gingivitis stems from increased production of progesterone. In pregnant women, this hormone helps to regulate their pregnancy. A side effect is that progesterone also facilitates bacterial growth. This increased bacterial growth may lead to a benign tumor that a dentist in Florida calls pyogenic granuloma. It’s nothing to worry about since the cyst dissipates without causing harm after the pregnancy. However, for a dentist, spotting this growth is a sure sign that your patient is expecting.
5. You Used to be a Thumb-Sucker
A lot of kids start off sucking their thumbs and eventually grow out of it. However, the ones that had an extended thumb-sucking phase leave indelible marks of their habit. One of those marks is the shape of their teeth. Kids who suck their thumbs long after the age of five, into age seven or eight, show significant changes to their teeth position. While orthodontic treatment can fix some of these issues, telltale signs of the habit remain. Protruding front teeth and jaws that come together badly are other symptoms of an extended thumb-sucking phase. Additionally, the practice could negatively affect their ability to pronounce words.
6. You Drink Alcohol Too Much
It’s not our place as dentists to spot alcoholics, but we can. And it’s not from the lingering scent of their last drink either. Alcoholics can come into a dental practice without a drink, and we’d still know. Alcohol tends to dry out your mouth. The American Dental Association (ADA) mentions that dry mouth or “Xerostomia” can result in a higher incidence of demineralization and tooth decay. If you drink alcohol often, the lingering scent might still be a giveaway, even if you haven’t had one that morning before your visit.
7. Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency
A lot of the problems that you can get with vitamin deficiency shows up in your mouth. Symptoms such as increased oral infections, easy-to-bleed gums, and burning tongue syndrome are clues to vitamin deficiency. Mineral deficiency is also easy to spot, especially trace minerals like iron. Iron deficiency shows up in sores along a patient’s tongue or along the roof of his or her mouth. A lack of iron can also cause the tongue’ texture to change as the small papillae fall off. Adding more iron to your diet will fix these problems, and dentists can advise you to seek a nutritionist for your vitamin deficiencies.
8. You’ve Got Oral Cancer
Giving one of these diagnoses is never something we look forward to. A dentist in Florida is trained to spot the signs of oral cancer, but even so, we ask for second and third opinions, so we don’t get it wrong. The earliest signs of oral cancer are bleeding in the gums and mouth. Alongside the bleeding, there are red, white, or speckled patches. There’s also a change in how your teeth fit together. We can easily spot eroded areas of the lips, gums, and other interior regions of the mouth, which confirm our suspicions. Once a dentist confirms the incidence, he or she will refer you to an oral surgeon for a biopsy.
Knowing Helps Us Treat You Better
As your dentist, it’s our business to know about the things that you go through. It helps us to cater the procedures to your specific needs. Each patient is unique, and at Anderson Dental Lake Worth, we’ve dedicated our practice to providing tailored care to our clients. If you’re ready to experience what customized dental care feels like, call us today to schedule an appointment. We think you’d be glad to have a dentist that cares so deeply about your well-being.