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Your Mouth Has Something To Say About Your Health

Mouth being inspected
Your mouth might be trying to tell you something about your overall health.

Many signs of serious systemic diseases and health problems appear in your mouth. So if preventing cavities and gum disease isn’t enough to keep you current on your dental checkups and professional cleanings, think about your heart, your joints and other overall health issues.

Read on to learn more about some serious health conditions that often exhibit symptoms in your mouth.

Diabetes

If you are diabetic, there literally can be a mouthful of signs pointing doctors to that diagnosis. Some of them include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Oral infections that won’t heal, or are slow to heal
  • Fungal infections such as thrush
  • Diabetics have high glucose levels, and high glucose levels in your saliva help breed bacteria that combine with foods you eat to form plaque. Some types of plaque can lead to tooth decay or cavities, while other types cause gum disease and bad breath. Additionally, high glucose levels in the blood can lead to poor blood flow that results in a diminished immunologic response to bacteria. Ever hear of diabetic amputations of limbs? Well a similar process happens in the mouth, by which periodontal bugs are allowed to grow unchecked due to poor circulation and immune response. This means patients who would otherwise be affected by gingivitis or mild periodontitis can develop severe periodontal disease and bone loss around their teeth.

    Heart Disease

    Gum disease is connected to many other systemic problems, and numerous studies have identified its connection to heart disease. Scientists believe that chronic inflammation caused by gum disease may be responsible for the connection, according to the American Academy of Periodontology.

    If you have gum disease, it can make an existing heart condition worse. Keep an eye out for these warning signs:

    • Red, tender or swollen gums
    • Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
    • Receding gums
    • Chronic bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
    • Loose and/or drifting teeth

    Stroke

    Chronic infectious diseases, including periodontal disease, have been linked to an increased risk of stroke. Gingivitis and periodontitis are among the most prevalent chronic human infections.

    One study cited by the AAP investigated the causal relationship of oral infection as a stroke risk factor and found that those who suffered a stroke were more likely to have an oral infection when compared to those in the control group.

    Eating Disorders

    The oral health consequences of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are serious. Dentists often are the first medical professionals to identify possible eating disorders. Signs of them that appear in your mouth include:

    • Erosive lesions on teeth from stomach acid – 89 percent of bulimic patients show signs of tooth erosion
    • Chronic ulcerations in the corners of the mouth
    • Changes in tooth color, shape and length
    • Increased sensitivity to temperature
    • Esophagus and/or tongue inflammation
    • Enlarged salivary glands
    • Dry mouth
    • Tooth decay
    • Loose teeth caused by the onset of osteoporosis

    Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

    Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is a condition arising from a weakened valve connecting the esophagus to the stomach. As a result, stomach acid is allowed to travel up the esophagus and into the mouth. This acid is incredibly destructive to the oral tissues, but can also have life-threatening consequences to the lower esophagus, so early detection is critical. Commonly referred to as GERD, more than seven million Americans have oral symptoms resulting from this condition, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Those symptoms include:

    • Bad breath
    • Gum inflammation
    • Tooth enamel erosion
    • Chronic sore throat
    • Sour taste in the mouth
    • A sudden excess of saliva
    • Hoarseness

    Sjögren’s Syndrome

    This chronic disease is an autoimmune connective tissue disease that causes the body to attack its own moisture-producing glands. It is often concurrent with other autoimmune diseases and it has many manifestations in the mouth. Some examples include:

    • Dry mouth
    • Tooth decay
    • Loose fillings
    • Oral infections
    • Swelling of the parotid gland
    • Changes in the composition of saliva

    Rheumatoid Arthritis

    GERD and Sjögren’s are more prevalent and easily diagnosed by dentists than rheumatoid arthritis, because RA has likely already manifested itself elsewhere by the time we see it. However, this autoimmune disease can exhibit the following oral signs of its presence:

    • Pain and swelling in the neck and jaw
    • Dry or gritty sensations in the eyes, mouth, and throat
    • Cracked or peeling lips
    • Difficulty talking or swallowing

    As you can see, your mouth can serve as a window into your overall health. Because of that, it’s imperative that you maintain routine dental checkups and professional teeth cleanings.

    Please call us today to schedule an appointment. We will work with you to keep you looking and feeling your best.

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