oral and general healthWhen you visit your dentist, you’re probably expecting a check for cavities, oral cancer, and gum disease. And, of course, you’re looking forward to leaving the dentist’s office with a nice, clean smile. Dr. Guthrie will certainly check your oral health but did you know she can detect some serious health conditions just by looking at the inside of your mouth?

Think of your mouth as the window to your body’s health. Your teeth and gums can tell so much about your personal habits and any underlying health issues. In fact, your overall health and oral health are directly related. For example, those with inflammation in the gums probably have it in other areas of the body, too. The next time you sit in the dental chair, you may be surprised about what James River Family Dentistry can reveal about your health.

During a routine dental examine, Dr. Guthrie may alert you about the following conditions:

Cardiovascular Disease

Your dental health can impact your heart. Those with periodontitis have a higher risk of plaque build up in the arteries which may cause a heart attack. Periodontitis is a serious gum disease that causes inflammation and damages the bone and soft tissues supporting the teeth. Bacteria present in the mouth can then travel to your heart and vascular system. This may lead to blood clots and coronary heart disease.


Diabetes can be a life-threatening condition where the body doesn’t produce the correct amount of insulin to regulate blood sugar. Those suffering from diabetes often have oral issues like bad breath and bleeding gums. In fact, those with diabetes are more likely to suffer from gum disease.  

Kidney Disease

Bad breath and a chronic dry mouth may be indicators of kidney problems. In addition, someone with kidney problems may have a higher risk for oral infections.


Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones which causes them to lose mass and become brittle. This increases the likelihood of fractures and other complications. Unfortunately, this is often referred to as a silent disease, because physical symptoms aren’t present early on.

A dental exam with x-rays can take a look at the bones supporting your teeth to determine any bone loss which may lead to an early diagnosis of this condition.


Anemia is often the result of an iron deficiency that impacts your red blood cells. Your dentist can identify this condition if there is a loss of color in your tongue, gums, or other areas of your mouth.

Once your dentist alerts you of these symptoms, changes in your diet or supplements can help treat anemia.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that can develop in both younger and older people. Your dentist may notice jaw swelling or problems with a joint connecting the jaw to the skull–a condition commonly referred to as TMJ. Both of these can be indicators of RA.

Stress and Poor Nutrition

What you put into your body and how you handle life’s troubling situations has a major impact on your body and your mouth. Those burdened with high levels of stress may grind their teeth without even realizing it. In addition, if your body isn’t getting the proper nutrients–or you’re struggling with an eating disorder like bulimia–your dentist may spot signs of trouble in your mouth before your doctor can diagnose it.  

Keep Your Mouth Healthy

While scheduling a routine oral exam is a great way to secure better overall health, there are some things you can do today to make your mouth healthier.

  • Brush and floss regularly. Make sure you brush at least twice a day for two minutes or more. A recent study showed flossing before brushing helped higher levels of fluoride–the mineral helping to prevent cavities and tooth decay–remain in the mouth.
  • Eat healthy. A diet rich in vitamins and minerals not only helps the body function properly, it keeps the mouth healthy. Avoid sugary drinks and snacks. Brush and floss more often when you do indulge.
  • Break the bad habits. Smoking, chewing tobacco, and even drinking can have major consequences to your oral and overall health. Take small steps in adopting a healthy lifestyle today.

If you’re ready to take an active role in a healthier life, schedule a routine exam with James River Family Dentistry today. Our team of dental professionals is highly skilled in assessing your oral and overall health and are happy to answer any questions you may have.


The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of a qualified medical provider with questions you may have about treatment.