A visit to the dentist can do more than give you clean teeth. It could also save your life.

Serious dental problems may be avoided with routine dental check-ups and cleanings. And while hygienists and dentists are looking in your mouth, they may be able to detect symptoms of other serious health problems.

Dr. Hinze recently attended a training where he learned more about the dental symptoms associated with GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease), which is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter. It causes the stomach to return its contents back into the esophagus.

“Over long periods of time, GERD can be dangerous and may lead to cancer,” Dr. Hinze said.

The dental signs of GERD include erosion on the upper teeth near the pallet and on the lower biting surface. Sometimes, a dentist could even notice erosion on one side of a patient’s mouth, and that may indicate a sider sleeper with GERD.

Dr. Hinze said 25 percent of people with GERD don’t even realize they have it. That’s why a dental check-up can be so important so the problem can be treated before it causes damage.

Cavities on the roots or sides of the teeth may be seen in older patients who are taking several medications. The medicines can dry out the mouth, and the lack of saliva can cause cavities. Dentists can prescribe a medicine to help prevent the dry mouth conditions, or they may encourage patients to visit with their family physician about changing medications.

The dentist can also help diagnose eating disorders by noticing erosion on the teeth, and they can encourage patients to visit their doctor if they notice inflammation and bleeding in the gums that may indicate diabetes or heart disease.

While making time to visit the dentist may seem challenging, it’s an important part of your overall health routine to keep you on a journey of good health.

Schedule your regular checkup with Dr. Hinze today by calling Kay at (308) 995-5331.