How To Recognize Clinical Signs of Such Systemic Disease

What are the symptoms of dental and oral disease?
Cavities
When bacteria build up on the teeth and gums, tooth decay occurs from acids that eat away the hard outer layer — the enamel — on the surfaces of teeth. Early symptoms may include white spots on the teeth. As the cavity worsens, the color changes to light brown then becomes darker. Decay around the edges of dental fillings can weaken the fillings and cause them to break and leak.
 
Gum Disease
Symptoms of periodontal or gum disease include:
 
Persistent bad breath, also called halitosis, or persistent bad taste in your mouth
Bleeding gums
Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
Teeth that have shifted or loosened
Pus between your teeth and gums
Red, puffy gums
Gum tenderness or pain
Teeth that look longer because your gums have receded
Gums that have separated from your teeth
Teeth or gums that are very sensitive to heat and cold
 
Abscessed Tooth
Tooth pain, sensitivity to heat and cold, swollen glands in the neck, and fever can be signs of an abscessed tooth. Pain relievers such as aspirin will help treat the symptoms, as will rinsing your mouth with warm, salted water. However, you need to see a dentist to treat the infection in the tooth. Dentists can often save abscessed teeth when treated early.
 
We might not think of dentists and dental hygienists as saving lives, but Dr. Gwen Cohen-Brown would beg to differ.
 
An assistant professor of dental hygiene at New York City College of Technology (City Tech), she is on a mission to educate her students and a variety of providers in the metropolitan New York area -- hygienists, physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and hospital HIV/AIDS counselors -- to routinely conduct periodontal evaluations and oral cancer and vital sign screenings as well as how to recognize the clinical signs of such systemic diseases as HIV/AIDS.
 
"Dental health providers can be the first line of care when it comes to oral health," she says. "The mouth is the portal to the body and a reflection of general health. We as health providers need to be able to recognize things like a yeast infection that doesn't go away or specific tumors and be able to bring up such subjects with our patients."
 
Statistics bear out her concern. According to the American Dental Association, only about seven percent of dentists offer the mouth and neck exams they should.
 
Dr. Cohen-Brown, who became a dentist in the mid-1980s when the AIDS crisis reached epidemic proportions and saw many patients with HIV/AIDS, makes this point when she speaks at hospitals, prisons, clinics, health care conferences, training programs and rehab, medical and mental health centers in the tri-state area, which she does as often as time permits. She also offers in-person health care provider continuing education on HIV-related topics through Cicatelli Associates.
 
You can find more dental supplies and dental lab equipment at ishinerdental.com.
 

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