When you think about a dentist's role in caring for your health, prevention and treatment are probably the main duties that come to mind. In some cases, however, a dentist's education and experience can lead him or her to observe and diagnose certain disorders that are not even specific to your teeth. Gardner syndrome, for example, affects mainly the colon; but some of its most obvious signs are easily detected by a dentist or orthodontist. By understanding what it means to detect Gardner syndrome teeth and knowing how this condition may affect your oral health, you'll get a better grasp of how the syndrome spreads and what it entails.
Gardner syndrome isn't a cancer, but a familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). These conditions cause cancer through the growth of hundreds to thousands of benign polyps in the colon and rectum. Over time, these polyps can become cancerous tumors, which, according to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, means a person with Gardner syndrome is more likely to experience early-onset cancer at an average age of 39.
Gardner syndrome is caused by a genetic mutation that reduces your body's ability to suppress tumour growth. Cell growth increases, resulting in benign polyps that can become cancerous tumors. The syndrome can both be inherited and result in new genetic mutations, but it does bear mentioning that a pregnant person with Gardner syndrome has a 50 percent chance of passing the mutation onto her child.
If Gardner syndrome is a colorectal issue, how can your dentist assist with its diagnosis? One of the more common symptoms of Gardner syndrome actually presents itself in dental abnormalities. According to the International Journal of Medical Sciences, 30 to 75 percent of Gardner syndrome patients have some type of dental abnormality, and 68 to 82 percent suffer from osteomas, or bony masses (bony tumours). These bony masses are most likely to affect the jaw. Some of the dental abnormalities associated with Gardner syndrome include:
- Unerupted or impacted teeth
- Carious (cavity-prone) teeth
- Fused molars
- Bony growths on the jaw bone
While experiencing one of these symptoms doesn't automatically point to Gardner syndrome, suffering several at the same time, along with a family history of the condition, may lead your dentist to determine that you have the syndrome. Because your dentist is familiar with your mouth and your history, they are well-placed to suggest you talk to your doctor.
Gardner syndrome isn't diagnosed through oral signs alone, but discussing your symptoms with a dentist is a great first step. Your health care team can compare symptoms with your family history and radio imaging to correctly diagnose Gardner syndrome and create a treatment plan.
If Gardner syndrome is known to run in your family, your health care provider may have already suggested a treatment plan to help detect cancer as early as possible, starting with colonoscopies at age 10 to 12 and continuing every one or two years. At age 25, your doctor may suggest you have an upper endoscopy every one to three years. If detected, benign polyps are often monitored carefully. Treatments for malignant tumors include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
As for your oral health, your dentist can help address some of your symptoms, such as filling cavities or even removing impacted teeth. Regularly brushing and flossing your teeth will also help to prevent cavities. Bony growths can be removed for cosmetic reasons, so talk to your doctor if they make you feel self-conscious.
Oral health is often a good indicator of your overall wellness, and Gardner syndrome teeth are a great illustration of that concept. By making regular dental appointments and talking to your dentist about any changes or concerns you may have, you could detect potential issues. That's just another way your dentist contributes to your overall health.