5 Things Your Teeth & Gums Are Telling You About Your Overall Health

Shhh. Do you hear that? Your teeth and gums may be telling you something—and if you know what to look for, your oral health could give you some important clues about the state of your overall well-being.

Here are some ways to recognize certain conditions so you can seek care before it becomes a serious problem.

1. Dry Mouth

Has cotton mouth made it difficult to carry on a conversation? Do you feel like you can’t get enough water to satiate your thirst? There can be many contributing factors, including dehydration, allergies, or starting a new medication. However, in some cases dry mouth can also be an indicator of certain diseases like diabetes or Sjogren’s syndrome.

Should I be worried?

Dry mouth isn’t always a sign of more serious conditions, so try not to assume the worst if you’ve started noticing your mouth is dryer than normal. Other signs that something more is going on include excessive thirst, tingling of the extremities, frequent urination, weight loss, and blurred vision.

Whether you have additional symptoms or not, alert your dentist or primary care physician that something is out of the norm so you can get help and rule out more serious conditions.

2. Chronic Mouth Sores

From biting your cheek to the annoyance of a canker sore, mouth sores happen from time to time. But if they keep coming back or don’t heal after a few weeks, you’ll need to see a professional. Chronic mouth sores can sometimes be a symptom of other health concerns such as oral cancer.

Should I be worried?

If the sore is not pink in color, doesn’t go away after a few weeks, or is continually returning, book an appointment with your dentist right away. This is particularly important for tobacco users and anyone over the age of 60, as they are more susceptible to oral cancers.

3. Flat Teeth

If you have flat molars accompanied by headaches or jaw pains you can’t explain, your mouth may be busy while you’re sleeping—and nighttime teeth grinding can lead to a number of problems down the road.

Should I be worried?

If you wake up with an achy jaw, experience regular headaches, or have pain that radiates from the mouth and head downward, it may be time to see a professional to get fitted for a mouth guard. This will protect your teeth from common side effects, such as enamel chipping and flattening of the top of the teeth. Teeth grinding can be a sign of underlying stress, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, talking to a therapist or counselor could also help.

4. Cracking or Crumbling of Teeth

As we age, our enamel begins to thin and we’re more vulnerable to breaking and cracking of teeth. However, sometimes tooth erosion can result from other conditions, and early detection can help keep you healthy for longer.

Should I be worried?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux, can lead to tooth damage from stomach acid. If you experience dry mouth, heartburn, or cracking and chipping of teeth, it could be the result of this common condition. This disease is usually very treatable with the right medication, so be sure to ask your physician about your options before your teeth suffer more damage.

5. Plaque or Gum Inflammation

Plaque is nearly impossible to avoid entirely, but it’s important to keep it from building up—that’s why it’s recommended to brush your teeth at least twice a day. Uncontrolled plaque can lead to gum disease, or even heart attack or stroke.

Should I be worried?

Research shows that inflammation of the gums is a major factor in predicting the development of heart disease. When bacteria from the mouth caused by gum disease loosens and enters the bloodstream, it can lead to clot formation, increasing the risk of heart attack and/or stroke. If you have a heart condition, it is very important to have your dentist routinely examine your mouth for infection and to practice good oral health habits.

Have an oral health concern? Talk to your dentist.

If you’re experiencing one of the aforementioned conditions, try not to panic! Self-diagnosis or seeking medical advice from Dr. Google may only convince you of the worse and cause you to miss the true cause of your issue.

Instead, see your dentist; they see people with mouth conditions on a regular basis and can help guide you to the right treatment or doctor.

We also encourage all patients to get to know their “default” and be aware of anything abnormal that occurs—at which point your doctor or dentist can make recommendations for how best to keep you happy and healthy.

Ready to schedule your next cleaning and checkup? Atlanta dentist Dr. Gurley is accepting new patients, and he would love to help you keep an eye on your health from teeth to toes. Contact us today.

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