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You lie back in the dentist’s chair, open wide, and wonder… what exactly is your dentist doing in there? He/she isn’t only looking for the usual suspects like cavities and bleeding gums. Your mouth, teeth and gums tell a lot about the rest of your body. Did you know your dentist checks for signs of cancer in your mouth and up to 120 other diseases during your exam? And did you know those diseases can be linked to other problems throughout the body?

Visiting the dentist twice a year, or as often as recommended, doesn’t just keep your teeth sparkly. It could get you a head-start taking care of a health problem if the dentist sees anything that concerns her.

Related content: Preventive care 101: what why and how much

During the exam, your dentist looks for signs of health problems in your mouth, like lots of build-up of plaque, cavities or gum bleeding and sensitivity. Some of these problems like gum disease are frequently linked to issues in other parts of the body – like diabetes, heart disease and stroke. In pregnant women, gum disease can be linked to babies being born small or too early. Scientists don’t know exactly why gum disease is connected to other problems, but they think bacteria in the mouth can escape into the bloodstream and damage organs. Swelling, or inflammation, in the gums might increase inflammation in other parts of the body.

What does this have to do with health insurance?

If your dentist can catch a disease early, it can be much easier to treat by a doctor. Your health care costs will be lower since you’ll likely have fewer appointments and procedures. Your doctor will also know what to monitor and watch for, so they can catch any issues in the early stages.

So what can I do?

Taking care of your teeth and gums is an easy way to keep you in your best health.

Four tips for good teeth health:

Dentist Tips

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