A question Health Navigators ask is about going to a dentist. Sometimes the response is, “I have full dentures – why should I go to a dentist?” Good question.

A dental exam includes more than teeth. Dental healthcare professionals assess for cancer of the gums, tongue and throat. If you’re already wearing dentures, the exam will include monitoring your gums to make sure the dentures still fit properly without causing sores.

Dental exams identify problems early, so you will be spared extensive oral surgery to repair issues you ignored too long. Some insurance plans reward members who keep preventive exams, because it’s less costly to clean your teeth and fill small cavities than to do more extensive work.

Persons with sore gums or tooth pain may think the problem is just in their mouth, but decay in teeth introduces bacteria throughout the entire body. This can be a concern for pregnant women. According to the March of Dimes, some studies indicate a link between gum disease and premature birth. Other research shows a connection between oral health and certain chronic diseases, such as stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.

Call Dallas County Health Navigation at 515-993-3750 for help in finding a dentist.