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Does military service affect dental health?

By: Dr. Greg Grillo

Serving our country is a great honour. After retiring from the military, however, it is common for individuals to experience everyday health issues, including oral problems. Military service may affect dental health in three key areas: missing teeth, jaw problems and gum disease.

An article by expert and guest writer: Dr. Greg Grillo (dentably.com)

“I have been practicing dentistry for over 17 years and have spent part of my experience serving as a dental officer in the U.S Navy.

Over the years, those who have served in the military have come to me with concerns about their dental health after they’ve been discharged.”

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Missing Teeth

Tooth loss is a common dental issue that veterans face. Their teeth may have been knocked out in the line of duty, or they make have weakened gums and jawbones causing their teeth to fall out after they have been discharged.

Luckily, tooth loss is fairly easy to manage with proper care. If you are missing any of your teeth, head to your dentist to schedule an appointment to discuss a replacement and ways to pay for treatment.

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD)

TMD is a condition that veterans may experience and deals with the teeth, jaw, and muscles of the mouth. It can cause intense pain and make it difficult to chew. There have been studies completed that show a link between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and TMD. Those who suffer PTSD may be more likely to also suffer from TMD, and veterans fall right into this category.

Physical therapy can often help with TMD symptoms as well as night guards and certain medications. Talk to your dentist and primary healthcare provider about treatment options if you are suffering from TMD.

Gum Disease

Dental hygiene routines can sometimes take a back seat while one is on a tour of duty and because of this, veterans are put at a higher risk for gum disease. This risk doesn’t necessarily go away after they are discharged so it’s important that individuals pick back up on a good oral routine once they return home. This includes brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and rinsing with mouthwash.

If you think you may have gum disease, be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist. They will be able to give you an exam and deep cleaning as well as line up a plan for treatment if you have some degree of gum disease. Treatment will involve dental visits to help remove plaque, and you may be prescribed antibiotics to help fight the infection. If you are suffering from severe gum disease, or periodontitis, you may need to undergo surgery to remove all of the bacteria.

Dental care for veterans

Serving our country can sometimes lead to health issues later in life. Some issues have to do with the mouth and dental care, and it can be confusing to know what to do if you are suffering from any dental issues. Things like missing teeth, TMD, and gum disease, can all be well-managed by visiting your dentist and primary health care providers. Veterans are more than deserving a healthy mouth. There are options for care to help people who have served be healthy once they are discharged from service.

Because military service may affect dental health, we support those who have served.

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