Did you know that the oral health can be a good indicator of other health concerns? Some dental conditions, such as bad breath and/or puffy gums, can be attributed to gum disease. However, other oral symptoms, which may appear unrelated, could be giving you clues into other health problems.
At some point we all get a case of smelly breath, but brushing and flossing (including brushing your tongue) should resolve that challenge. When it doesn’t, it could be a sign of advanced gum disease, and if not treated swiftly, can destroy perfectly healthy teeth. Professionals also often find one of the bad breath culprits is diet. Onions, garlic, and some spices can generate foul breath for hours.
A number of factors can lead to swollen gums, but the most common cause is gingivitis, a gum disease that causes your gums to become irritated and swollen. Because symptoms of gingivitis can be mild, many people don’t know they have it. However, if left untreated, gingivitis can lead to a serious condition called “periodontitis” and possible tooth loss.
Other conditions that can lead to swollen gums include pregnancy; the rush of hormones can increase blood flow in your gums. Vitamin deficiencies, especially vitamins B and C, can also cause gum swelling, and infections, and untreated dental decay are other widespread causes of swollen gums.
All kinds of acidic influences can erode the tooth enamel of healthy teeth, including citrus fruits and soda. However, a very common source of acid in the mouth is from gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. With GERD, stomach acid comes up the esophagus, triggering heartburn, and entering the mouth. Bulimia, an eating disorder in which people frequently binge on a large meal and then purge by vomiting, is another source of eroded enamel.
Also known as xerostomia, is a common oral condition, and more frequent as we age. A high number of medications create dry mouth as a side effect. However, outside of dental health, dry mouth is a common symptom of diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus, and Sjogren’s syndrome. If you have chronic dry mouth, you should be concerned and talk to your dentist, Leader advises. You can also find clinics that specialize in treating this condition.
Mouth sores, including canker sores, are usually a minor irritation and typically will only last a week or two. Sometimes, however, they can be an indication of more serious conditions such as an infection like herpes, or even oral cancer. Mouth sores from oral cancer tend to occur along with other oral conditions, such as a strange taste in the mouth, problems chewing, pain when you swallow, and having trouble with speech. If you experience an of the following symptoms, you should contact your doctor.
- sores that are larger than half an inch in diameter
- frequent outbreaks of mouth sores
- joint pain
White or Brown Lines on Kids’ Teeth?
It’s not uncommon for children to be exposed to too much fluoride, which can result in fluorosis – white or brown lines across the face of their teeth. Most community water supplies are fortified with fluoride and fluoride is often contained in some bottled water and other products such as juice. Treating fluorosis is normally done with placing a dental filling (bonding), veneer or crown. The most appropriate restoration procedure is determined by the treating dentist.
These difficulties are just a few examples outlining the significance of maintaining a healthy mouth. Visiting the dentist regularly, as well as committing to good oral hygiene habits will not only help maintain overall health, but can help you catch more serious health concerns in a timely and helpful manner.