It’s easy to think of your health and your oral health as two separate beasts. After all, you see separate medical professionals, and many people think of oral health as limited to your mouth. Poor oral hygiene? You may get a cavity, or have bad breath.
Unfortunately, this limited view of oral health is not only inaccurate, but it can endanger you. In reality, oral health is closely connected to whole-body health. Problems in the mouth can be signs of or lead to problems elsewhere in the body, and oral symptoms can also be an indicator of health problems of many kinds.
GERD Can Eat at Enamel
If you find that your enamel is wearing away, it could be a sign of GERD — gastroesophageal reflux disease. More casually referred to simply as “heartburn,” this chronic condition affects millions of people across the world. While the focus when discussing and treating the disease is usually on the damage it does to the esophagus, it also impacts the teeth. When hydrochloric acid from the stomach comes up into the mouth, it can eat away the enamel on your teeth, usually on the tongue side.
This may be difficult to you to notice, but it will be visible to your dentist at your regular checkup and cleaning. Unfortunately, enamel can’t be regrown. Once GERD has taken its toll on your teeth, you may need reconstructive dentistry to correct the problem.
Have an Influx of Cavities?
Cavities are generally a sign that your oral hygiene needs work, or an indicator that your diet has become too sugary. But if you experience an unusual number of cavities in a short period of time, there could be a serious health problem: diabetes.
When you have diabetes, your body has difficulty processing glucose, a simple sugar. As a result, that glucose can build up in your saliva. This overabundance of sugar in the mouth can cause cavities at a faster rate than normal, and can indicate that diabetes is a potential concern. This is particularly true when paired with some of the other oral symptoms of diabetes: Gum disease, and dry mouth thanks to lower saliva production.
White Spots Could be Thrush… Or Worse
If you notice white patches on your tongue or on the roof of your mouth, it could be a sign of thrush, a mouth infection caused by overgrown Candida yeast. It’s particularly common in adults as a result of antibiotics that kill off the normal bacteria in the mouth. Thrush can be treated in one to two weeks with a prescription from your doctor.
Unfortunately, thrush isn’t the only thing that can cause white patches in the mouth, though: White patches on the cheeks, gums, or tongue, could be excessive cell growth, referred to as leukoplakia. Leukoplakia can progress to cancer, which is why looking for these white patches is a part of the oral cancer examination your dentist performs every time you have a checkup and cleaning.
Sometimes oral symptoms can be key to identifying and treating a larger health issue. Call (610) 272-0828 or contact us online to make an appointment with an experienced dentist right here in Blue Bell, PA.