This February, to partake in the awareness of American Heart Month, we’d like to show how your dental and vision benefits provide an unexpected way to detect issues with your heart and your overall health.
Your eyes and mouth can reveal a lot about your overall health. During dental and vision exams, doctors can spot signs and symptoms of health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Health issues can be detected during an eye exam
During an eye exam, your eye doctor will look at the blood vessels in your eyes. As the American Academy of Ophthalmology explains, because the eye is an important part of our large nervous system, irregularities may indicate the changes in other parts of our bodies. In other words, since the blood, blood vessels and nerve connections in the eyes are connected to the rest of the body, our eyes “can reflect illness that begins” in another part of our body.
For example, an ophthalmologist can detect diabetes by noticing changes or damage in the blood vessels of our retina. Sometimes, an eye exam can detect the early and beginning stages of diabetes even before a blood sugar test. Early detection of diabetes can be crucial to avoiding more serious complications of the disease.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is another health condition that can be detected during an eye exam. The blood vessels can exhibit this condition. Inflamed eyes can be an indication of autoimmune disorders. High cholesterol can be identified by an eye doctor’s examination of the cornea and blood vessels. If these or other health issues are found by your eye doctor, they’ll refer you back to your primary care physician or specialist for further tests and examinations.
Health issues can be detected during a dental exam
Just like your eyes can be indicators of your overall health, the same is true about your mouth. Systemic diseases and health issues can sometimes show signs and symptoms in your mouth. For example, bleeding gums, dry mouth, loose teeth and bad breath can be signs of health problems in other parts of your body.
Heart disease can be detected by inflammation in your mouth. Sometimes a sore jaw or pain with other signs can indicate a looming heart attack. Diabetes can show signs in your mouth such as chronic bad breath and bleeding gums. High stress can lead to many health problems. Your dentist could notice signs of stress like worn down teeth or bone loss from grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. And an oral cancer screening is also usually a part of a dental exam. If these or other health issues are found by your dentist, they’ll refer you back to your primary care physician or specialist for further tests and examinations.
Early detection with regular visits
When you make your eye doctor and dentist appointment, you’re also taking care of your overall health. With these regular visits, twice a year at the dentist and once a year at the eye doctor, you’re preventing small problems with your teeth and eyes from becoming bigger and more costly, while also possibly identifying other health issues.