“The mouth illuminates signs of health and disease in the body…when you pay attention.“ — DR. SUSAN MAPLES

Our commitment to caring for the person “as a whole” has revealed how the health of the body is evidenced in the mouth, and vice versa. Below the photo, we have listed a few of the systemic conditions that can affect the mouth, along with some informative and valuable links.

 Type II Diabetes

It is estimated that by the year 2050, one-third of all Americans will suffer from Type II Diabetes…and the increasing health and financial burden falling upon our nation is serious. The out-of-control sugar consumption in not only adults, but CHILDREN, is the primary culprit for this increase in diabetes. As dentists, we know that gum disease complicates blood sugar control, and diabetes complicates gum disease treatment. In time, we hope to screen for diabetes in our office, and help our patients who are unaware of their risk and/or disease.

Acid Reflux
According to Dr. Jamie Koufman, a leader in acid reflux treatment and author of Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook and Cure, acid reflux affects around 40% of Americans, whereas it was only 10 percent in the 1970s. She believes the reasons for this drastic increase are our unhealthy lifestyles and diet. It is estimated that 5% of those with reflux will develop Barrett’s Esophagus, a precursor to cancer. Our team is trained to not only detect the signs of acid on the teeth (erosion and loss of enamel), but also to screen for more of the “silent” symptoms.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Around 80 percent of moderate to severe cases of OSA go undiagnosed, according to ASAA, and sadly, many physicians do not screen for it. OSA is a serious chronic disease that can lead to a myriad of other health problems, including heart attack, stroke, cognitive impairment, and much more. As dentists, we are in an ideal position to screen for OSA. We look for things like a narrow airway, constricted bite, wear and erosion of enamel, and other signs of this disease that manifest in the mouth.

Oral Cancer
The links between alcohol and tobacco consumption with oral cancer have long been known, but most recently the prevalence of HPV-associated oral cancer is on the rise. The term HPV, or Human Papillomavirus, covers over 120 different strains of the virus — from the low-risk forms causing skin warts, to the high risk strains that cause cancer. HPV-16 and HPV-18 are responsible for over 70% of all cervical cancer cases, but are now being found (along with HPV-6 and HPV-10) to be responsible for around 60% of all cancers of the mouth, including those on tonsils, throat, and back of tongue. BDP is currently working to incorporate a saliva test that identifies if a person is infected with HPV, which will help our patients prevent the disease, rather than first becoming aware at the time of diagnosis.