There are plenty of reasons the average person might make dental exams and appointments a priority: for one, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry reports that 99.7% of Americans believe a smile is an important social asset, while 75% of people fear an unattractive smile could hinder their professional success. Moreover, visiting a dentist office for even relatively common procedures can have life-changing effects: correcting misaligned teeth, for example, can prevent lifelong periodontal problems and severe tooth wear, including premature tooth loss. However, a family in Oklahoma recently discovered yet another reason to prioritize trips to their neighborhood family dentistry: their local dentist helped save their 11-year old daughter’s life.
The Woodard family told the Washington Post that they almost cancelled their six-month cleaning appointment. However, they dutifully made the trip to their neighborhood family dentistry practice with their four children, including their 11-year old daughter, Journee. During her cleaning, the dental hygienist and dentist noticed that Journee’s eyes were extremely yellow, a sign of jaundice. The dentist urged her mother to seek medical attention as soon as possible. When the family attended an appointment a few days later, it was revealed that Journee had a grapefruit-sized tumor on her pancreas, which needed to be removed immediately. Doctors told the family they were lucky: Journee was reportedly one basketball game away from rupturing the tumor.
While it isn’t always a well-known service, the best family dentists will often be able to detect signs of a variety of conditions in their early stages, including high blood pressure, diabetes and HIV, in addition to preventing and treating a number of oral health problems. In the Woodwards’ case, this ability gave them the sign they needed: Journee’s earlier symptoms, which included mild nausea and burping, were misinterpreted as minor ailments which had abated by the time of her appointment.
Currently, Journee has returned home following her surgery, where her family and doctors say she is recovering exceptionally well. As for their dentist, the Woodwards say they’re patients for life. If you needed a reason to attend your next check up at your neighborhood family dentistry practice, consider this a sign.