Even if you enjoy healthy looking teeth that feature little decay and no cavities, oral symptoms you develop may indicate trouble with other aspects of your health. As dentists like to say, if the eyes are the windows to the soul, than the mouth is the gateway to your health.
How your overall health relates to your oral health is just one of the many reasons why scheduling regular checkups with a dentist remains such an important part of any successful health plan.
To help you understand how your oral health can serve as a warning sign about your overall health, here are a few oral problems you should never ignore.
Bleeding Gums = Hormone Imbalance
Your gum tissue contains hormone receptors, which can become problematic when experiencing profound hormonal shifts, such as during pregnancy. A woman may experience bleeding gums while pregnant, not because she suffers from an oral health problem, but because her hormones have shifted out of balance. Women also experience increased gum sensitivity during their menstrual cycle, so you may want to reconsider scheduling a dental appointment during this time of month.
Fat Tongue or Red Mouth = Nutritional Deficiency
If the corners of your mouth appear reed, that can serve as a sign of a B6 vitamin deficiency, while a tongue that is red, shiny, swollen, or beefy in appearance can signal an iron deficiency. Conversely, a tongue that looks pale or sapped of color may be a sign of anemia. If you notice any discoloration of the tongue or mouth, consult your dentist for further evaluation.
Crumbling or Cracked Teeth = GERD
In many cases, stress is the most frequent cause of a patient’s teeth becoming worn down. However, when a dentist notices a patient suffers from cracked teeth or teeth that have begun to dissolve, the most likely culprit is stomach acid regurgitated during sleep. GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition that causes stomach acid to rise up through the esophagus and back into the mouth where it bathes your teeth’s enamel, causing erosion and decay.
Teeth grinding from stress and the erosion from GERD have two very distinct effects on teeth, which your dentist can differentiate upon examination. Patients who suffer from GERD are generally referred to a gastroenterologist for treatment.
Bad Breath = Stomach Issues
If you practice quality oral hygiene by brushing and flossing daily but still find yourself suffering from bad breath, you may have an underlying stomach issue. Foul breath can signify a number of conditions, including a bacterial overgrowth in the stomach, uncontrolled diabetes, and even liver or kidney problems. If your breath doesn’t improve regardless of what you eat or how often you brush, you need to have a dentist check your oral health.
Canker Sores = Intolerance to Gluten
Frequent canker sore outbreaks can signify intolerance to gluten or a zinc deficiency. You can attempt to treat your canker sore outbreaks by taking a zinc supplement, but if they continue to persist, you may actually be suffering from an allergic reaction to the consumption of gluten.
Celiac disease is an immune system disorder that causes damage to the lining of the small intestine when the proteins found in barely, rye, or wheat are consumed. A recent study has found links between the disease and canker sores, so ask your dentist about any potential connection should the problem not clear up after taking zinc supplements.
John Nickelbottom is a freelance health writer.