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Family Care Dental Clinic

8 Things Your Mouth Can Tell You About Your Health

8 Things Your Mouth Can Tell You About Your Health

As long as your smile is pearly white and your breath is kissable (go ahead and check :D ), you probably don’t give too much thought to your oral hygiene. Which is a shame because even if you brush and floss daily, you could be overlooking some clear signs of the state of your overall health.

Research has shown that there is an association between oral problems and serious health conditions in the rest of your body. So next time you pick up your toothbrush, stop and check your kisser for these clues that something may be amiss so you can remedy the issue.

1. SHARP TOOTH PAIN

A slight discomfort in your mouth is likely a piece of popcorn or nut lodged between teeth—something you can easily self-treat. But a sudden, sharp pain in your teeth when you bite down or chew is reason to see your dentist immediately, as it could indicate dental decay or a cavity. For throbbing, aching pain, we’d say to wait three days. If your mouth is still unhappy after that time, make a visit to your dentist.

However, an ache that’s located in your top teeth may signal a sinus infection as the sinuses are located just above the upper roots of your upper teeth. A dentist should be able to tell if your sinuses are clogged with an x-ray, and a decongestant should help the pain subside.

2. BLEEDING GUMS

Contrary to what some people think, it is not normal for your gums to bleed. Seeing red while brushing or flossing could mean you need to step up your home care or that you have periodontal (gum) disease.

Make a trip to your dentist as soon as possible for a thorough cleaning, and be sure to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day, as gum disease can be extremely dangerous to the rest of the body. The harmful bacteria that’s causing your gums to bleed can leave the mouth and enter the bloodstream, potentially affecting your heart by inflaming your arteries. In certain people with pre-existing heart valve conditions, this can even lead to death.

Some studies have also found a possible link between gum disease and premature pregnancy and low birth weights. Although other research has found no association, all pregnant women pay close attention to oral hygiene, ramp up their brushing and flossing regimen, limit sugar intake, and avoid major dental procedures that could in any way influence the baby’s growth and development.

3. MOUTH SORES

It’s key to know what kind of sore you’re dealing with: Crater-like sores that appear inside or outside the mouth are canker sores and ulcers. Stress, hormones, allergies, or a nutritional deficiency of iron, folic acid, or vitamin B-12 may be to blame, and eating certain acidic or spicy foods can exacerbate sores. To alleviate them, an OTC topical cream or gel should work.

If you have fluid-filled sores on your lips, those are cold sores, which are caused by the herpes simplex virus. They will crust over during healing, which can take up to three weeks, so avoid touching them (or locking lips) while they drain or “weep,” as they are contagious.

Any kind of sore that doesn’t start to heal or disappear after about two weeks, and especially one that turns red, white, or swollen, requires an immediate trip to the dentist. This could signal an autoimmune disease or even something more serious like oral cancer.

4. METALLIC TASTE

When your mouth tastes like you’ve been licking an aluminum can, it could be a side effect of a medication you’re taking; possible culprits include antihistamines, antibiotics, and heart meds. It may also be a symptom of gum disease, which requires a thorough dental cleaning and vigilant home care.

Or you may have zinc deficiency. Vegetarians and vegans are more prone to this, as the mineral is found mostly in animal products. If you’re an omnivore, be sure you’re getting plenty of zinc in your diet—good sources include oysters, beef, crab, fortified cereal, and pork chops. Vegetarians can get their share from fortified cereal, legumes, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, and milk products, or by taking a vitamin supplement, but always talk to your doctor before choosing a supplement or drastically changing your diet.

5. WHITISH BUMPS ON YOUR TONGUE

A white coat on your tongue is reason to see a white coat. While it may be the result of poor hygiene, dry mouth, or a medication, it may also be thrush. This overgrowth of bacteria is more likely to occur in babies and in people who wear dentures, but it can be painful, so you’ll need to get it taken care of ASAP.

Swollen white nodes toward the back of your tongue could also indicate HPV, though your dentist would need to biopsy the lesions to be sure. Finally, while a bluish colour on your tongue may just be a blood clot where you bit yourself, it could signify a more serious condition such as oral cancer. Don’t panic, but if you these coloured areas suddenly appear on your tongue, make an appointment to see your dentist, stat.

6. WHITE WEBBING ON YOUR INNER CHEEK

White strand- or web-like patterns inside your cheek usually mean you have lichen planus, a condition that can also cause shiny red bumps on other areas of your skin such as your hands, nails, or scalp. More common in women ages 30 to 70, the cause of lichen planus is unknown, and while it isn’t contagious or dangerous, there’s no known cure for it either. It’s more of an annoyance, but it’s still something to air to your dentist.

7. DRY MOUTH

Dry mouth is a side effect of many medications, including antihistamines, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety meds. So when you talk to your dentist, speak up if you’re taking any of these.

Of course if medication is the problem, you still have to address the issue since moisture in your mouth helps prevent cavities, tooth decay, gingivitis, and other oral infections. Try products that contain xylitol, such as sugar-free gum or Salese lozenges, which helps stimulate the production of saliva.

But if you also suffer from cracked lips and swollen, sore, or bleeding gums, you may have Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that can be treated with medication or surgery. Bottom line: See your dentist.

8. BAD BREATH

That’s not garlic from lunch causing your dragon breath, it’s a buildup of bacteria—and a sign you need to be more mindful with your toothbrush. Brush and floss thoroughly using light—not aggressive—pressure, and use a tongue scraper to clean the back of the tongue. Merely rubbing your tongue with your toothbrush won’t be enough to combat bacteria that are responsible for halitosis.

If this doesn’t work, something more may be at play, such as a respiratory disease, post-nasal drip, uncontrolled diabetes, gastric reflux, or kidney failure. Or if your breath is fruity, it could be a sign of diabetes. When the body doesn’t have enough insulin, it cannot use sugar as energy, so it uses fat for energy instead. Ketones, byproducts of fat breakdown, can cause this fruity odour. Check with your dental professional if you’ve been experiencing smellier-than-usual breath for more than a week, and he’ll be able to refer you to another professional if further investigation is needed.

Contact Family Care Dental Clinic for your consultation today!

Located in the heart of North Vancouver, BC, Family Care Dental Clinic is a group of passionate dentists and dental experts who are committed to providing patients with exceptional dental care in a modern and relaxing environment. We at Family Care Dental Clinic offer our clients a wide range of comprehensive dental services for the whole family. Call (604) 987-3545 or write us at info@familycaredentalclinic.com to schedule an appointment with a member of our excellent team!

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