Many of us know the importance of getting our teeth cleaned and checked regularly. But we may not realize how our dentist can actually help spot health problems.
"I can't go anywhere without it, I go on vacation with it, it's my crutch ." Herschel Miller isn't talking about his phone, wallet or something you'd likely guess. He's talking about his mouth piece. About three years ago, Herschel was struggling to get through his day.
"I just was not getting the sleep I needed and something had to be done."
Herschel had sleep apnea, a breathing disorder involving a decrease of oxygen to the brain during sleep. After trying many options, to his surprise, his dentist had the answer.
"Insomnia is a mental problem or a brain chemical problem, sleep apnea is a physical problem. So you have a blockage that you have to clear," says Dale Williams, D.D.S.
Dr. Williams says for milder forms of sleep apnea, it's a relatively easy fix from your dentist. For Herschel, an oral appliance was the answer to keep him breathing properly during sleep.
Turns out your dentist can help you with more than you may think. In a routine screening your dentist can reveal you have high blood pressure. They can also tell if you're suffering from high stress, through worn-down tooth enamel. Swollen or receding gums can be a clue of a serious medical issue.
"If you have an un resolvable gum disease problem, then you start to look at some systemic changes that have taken place that are causing this. So leukemia can cause this or diabetes can cause this.
Traci Blue suffered from severe headaches with intense popping when she moved her jaw. She took Tylenol for 6 months to deal with the pain, until one day she hit a wall. "I'm just brushing my teeth and I just physically couldn't close my mouth because the joint had just locked," says Traci.
Dr. Williams helped her determine she had a joint problem known as TMJ. It affects the line-up of her jaw and was causing intense headaches. Dental appliances have since significantly changed her daily life.
"I feel great, I don't get headaches as often, and if I do its due to stress or something of that nature."
While it may not seem like your favorite thing to visit to that dental chair, Herschel and Traci say it's something they won't miss.
If you are having certain medical problems, be sure to be open with your dentist and doctor.
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