We’ve talked about it before: you don’t want to be just an emergency patient. So, how you do avoid finding yourself with an emergency situation? You pay attention to your risk factors.

Risk factors are characteristics about you that indicate you are at an elevated risk for developing certain conditions. This goes beyond dental conditions. It means elevated risk for serious systemic problems that can dramatically impact your overall health.

Young asian woman sitting at a table at a diner with a toothache & sensitivity. Maybe you have added more brushing or flossing into your daily routine. Perhaps you changed your toothpaste. No matter what you’ve done, nothing seems to be helping. At Durham in Hilton Head, we have some expert suggestions that can save you some time and pain.

TMJ Risk Factors

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD) is a jaw condition that can begin as a relatively minor condition, but can worsen progressively, becoming a major health problem. If you experience jaw pain, jaw clicking, and other jaw problems, you should be evaluated for TMJ sooner rather than later. Untreated TMJ can lead to headaches, including more frequent and more severe migraines. It can also cause damage to your teeth, requiring major reconstructive dentistry.

Left untreated long enough, TMJ may even require reconstructive jaw surgery, which is not only expensive and painful, but has a relatively low success rate. Detected early, TMJ can be treated noninvasively without drugs and without surgery.

Gum Disease Risk Factors

There are many things that can contribute to your risk of developing gum disease, from lifestyle choices to genetics to crooked teeth. Once you develop gum disease, though, you are at an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other serious conditions.

We have to admit that we don’t know that gum disease causes these other conditions, but we do know that if you have gum disease, you are more likely to see diabetes, heart disease, and stroke become more serious. And if you treat gum disease, it’s easier to treat the other conditions.

Tooth Loss Risk Factors

Tooth loss is often one of the consequences of untreated gum disease. But tooth loss itself is often associated with other serious consequences that may seem unconnected. For example, tooth loss is associated with increased risk of dementia. And it’s associated with an increased risk of stroke, over and above the risk associated with gum disease.

We can’t yet explain these connections–such as whether they’re related to nutrition or biofeedback between the jaw and the brain–but they seem to be real.

Risk Factors Are Your Health Map

When you’re driving into an unknown area, you’re not usually just relying on what you see around you to get to your destination: you use a map so that you know in advance what route you should follow, what turns are coming up, and what hazards you may face. Your risk factors perform a similar role. They tell you what health conditions your future may hold so you can prepare for them and not have to perform a stressful and dangerous maneuver at the last minute.

If you are interested in learning how to prepare for good oral health not just today, but tomorrow, next week, next year, and beyond, we can help. Please call (843) 706-2999 for an appointment with a Hilton Head dentist at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry.