It is common to believe, there’s no need to make a dental appointment unless you notice an obvious problem with your teeth or gums.

You may be surprised to learn, dentists are often the first ones to discover signs of significant health issues you may have.

Scheduling routine dental check-ups can actually help improve your overall health. Read on to discover the top ten reasons to regularly visit your dentist.

1) Oral cancer

Dentists can actually spot many of the warning signs of oral cancer before you can. With professional equipment, and an experienced eye, dentists examine areas of your mouth that are not visible to you in a plain old mirror.

If you see your dentist at least twice a year, you can feel more secure that potential signs of oral cancer will be discovered before the disease has a chance to reach an advanced stage.

2) Dry mouth

If you suffer from dry mouth, your body may not be producing adequate amounts of saliva. Although you may not yet have noticed any problems with dryness, your dentist can detect the signs during a routine check-up.

While this may not sound like a particularly important discovery, there are two reasons why you should care about a diagnosis of dry mouth.

Firstly, the condition can lead to dental health problems if left untreated, as bacteria can more freely collect in your mouth and make you more likely to develop cavities and gum disease. Your dentist can recommend a substitute to compensate for the lack of saliva.

Secondly, dry mouth can be caused by some serious health problems (such as Sjögren’s syndrome and Parkinson’s disease) which may be discovered more readily with regular dental checkups.

3) Bruxism

Many people grind their teeth during the night, often as a response to stress, but are entirely unaware that this is causing them to experience seemingly unrelated symptoms (such as chronic headaches or ear pain).

Your dentist may notice that some of your teeth are worn down, or that grinding your teeth has led to jaw joint inflammation that changes the way your mouth moves when it opens and closes.

Once it becomes obvious that you grind your teeth, your dentist can make you a mouth guard that will aim to reduce jaw pain, headaches and potential tooth damage, or recommend ways to reduce stress.

4) Diabetes

Compared to the general population, diabetics are susceptible to more serious cases of gum disease and also more likely to develop acute oral infections. Seeing your dentist often will help ensure these problems are addressed before they become chronic or more difficult and expensive to treat.

For those who have yet to be diagnosed, your dentist may also be the one who suggests that you visit your doctor based on what he or she discovers going on in your mouth.

5) Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is an extremely common condition in the elderly population, and is especially likely to develop in older women. People with osteoporosis have brittle bones, so they are more likely to suffer from painful fractures. It is important to know if you are developing this health problem so that you can be seen by a specialist and make appropriate lifestyle changes.

Surprisingly, dentists are often the first to notice osteoporosis, as it causes certain subtle bone changes that make your gum line recede. In addition, bone density tests administered to determine if you are right for dental implants may also lead to a positive diagnosis for osteoporosis.

6) Pregnancy

If you and your partner have recently been discussing the prospect of having little ones, scheduling a dental checkup is an important step to take before trying to conceive.

When you are pregnant, cosmetic dental procedures (such as whitening) are discouraged, so it makes sense to organize any such procedures prior to pregnancy.

More importantly, once you are pregnant, you should not acquire any new fillings because the process carries a risk of mercury entering the baby’s bloodstream.

If you have your mouth examined prior to conception, you can schedule any necessary fillings and avoid further dental problems as a result.

7) Tooth loss

People who attend dental checkups twice a year are substantially less likely to end up losing any of their natural teeth. Early detection of tooth and gum problems can lead to simple, inexpensive treatments that help you to avoid emergencies.

For example, your dentist might notice a cavity and schedule a filling procedure before the tooth is beyond repair.

8) Endocarditis

Although your dental health is not obviously linked to your cardiovascular health, taking good care of your teeth and regularly seeing your dentist can make the difference between life and death in certain cases. People who suffer from heart valve disease are more susceptible to endocarditis, a potentially serious bacterial infection.

Endocarditis can result when bacteria enters the blood stream from another location in the body. People with heart valve disease should try to avoid dental surgery where possible. The best way to do this is to quickly treat problems with your teeth and gums before surgery is even necessary.

9) Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

If you are a sufferer of COPD, you should see your dentist to reduce your risk of developing pneumonia and other respiratory problems that could worsen your condition. Although the nature of the connection is currently under investigation, evidence indicates that people with untreated periodontal disease typically struggle with worse cases of COPD.

10) Halitosis

It is famously difficult to tell why you have bad breath, but your dentist may notice it during an examination and help to determine the cause.

In some cases, this leads to discovery of underlying diseases that may be connected with the throat or digestive system. Even if the cause of your bad breath is benign, your dentist can offer advice how to improve the situation.

In the long run, setting up regular appointments is a win-win for your mouth and your body.