Did you know your dentist can tell a lot about your overall health just by looking in and around your mouth? There are several different factors that can affect the health of your teeth, gums and jawbone, such as your genetics, diet, oral hygiene, and your health as a whole. Because our oral and general health are interlinked, disease of the mouth can affect a seemingly unrelated part of the body, and vice versa.
Oral diseases can be complex or relatively simple
Other than dental caries (decay), periodontal (gum and bone) disease, and malocclusion (poor dental bite, jaw problems, and misaligned teeth), most other oral conditions fall under the cargeories of oral medicine and oral pathology. Specialists in these areas are usually oral and maxillofacial surgeons, specialists, or general dentists with a particular interest in these areas. A high proportion of oral and facial conditions require surgery.
Each area of oral health has its own specialist
Oral pathologists can examine tissue samples to diagnose a disease or condition, and general dentists can extract teeth when necessary – but certain conditions call for certain specialist skills and knowledge.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons possess the education, knowledge, and skill to successfully treat most conditions relating to the mouth and face. Your dentist will judge whether your condition would be better suited to being diagnosed and treated by a specialist, and if so, refer you to the most suitable specialist for your situation.
It’s better to treat a disease than extract a tooth
Because teeth are so important for allowing your mouth and facial features to function properly, extraction is always considered to be a last resort. Unless extraction is absolutely necessary, it is always preferable to save your natural teeth.
Replacing natural teeth with artificial ones is expensive and often difficult, and tooth-replacement procedures only result in a natural-looking appearance when performed by highly skilled and experienced dentists. While tooth extraction can be an alternative to many other treatments, it is always best to be avoided wherever possible.
Visit your dentist at the first sign of oral disease
If something doesn’t seem quite right with your oral health, you should speak to your dentist as soon as you can. They will be highly educated and experienced in diagnosing oral diseases. If your issue is something they’re not too familiar with, they’ll refer you to a specialist who can diagnose and treat your problem.