What is your mouth telling you about your health?
As we mentioned in our last blog, Raphaelson Dental Associates treats the whole body, not just a tooth or your mouth. Think of your mouth as a window, that allows us to look into your body, giving us clues that can detect early dental problems and symptoms of systemic disease. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, that more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms. Conditions such as Periodontal disease can be precursors Alzheimer's and dementia, diabetes, and even preterm labor. If there is an active infection in your mouth it doesn't just stay there, it travels through your bloodstream and affects the whole body. Skipping out on your twice-a-year checkup means you could snowball into a serious oral or possible medical situation, that could have been detected and treated earlier.
So let us talk about some of the warning signs you should be aware of:
Bad Breath, Bleeding, Plaque and Your Gums!
If you have bad breath that just lingers, it probably has to do with more than the garlic and onions you had for dinner- it could be a sign of Periodontal (Gum) disease. Periodontal disease creates a volatile sulfur compound that will make your breath smell like ROTTEN EGGS, ugh!
Other changes you might notice: Bleeding after you brush and floss, or changes in your teeth size or gum color. For instance, if your teeth appear smaller, this can mean you have inflammation in your gums. If that is the case, they are also probably red because healthy gums are a pale pink. Inflammation is caused by your body's immune response to the infection caused by the bacteria that lives in dental plaque. If your teeth appear to be longer, this is also another indication of gum disease. Gum disease happens to be the number one cause of receding gums. Also, receding gums can leave your roots exposed and vulnerable to decay.
Severe periodontal disease can eventually result in the loss of your teeth. Research has also linked oral infections such as gum infections to poorly controlled diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's, sexual dysfunction and preterm birth. If your disease is in the early or moderate phase, we will treat it with non-surgical periodontal therapy.
Hot or cold drinks or food can make teeth a little sensitive, however, if you're getting sharp pain, this could possibly be a cavity. If left untreated, the infection can spread to surrounding nerve tissue- resulting in Root Canal!
Color of your Tongue
Normal tongues should be pink and covered with small nodules (papillae). If your tongue is red this can be a sign of Folic acid and Vitamin B-12 deficiencies. More serious conditions include Scarlet fever or Kawasaki disease. Scarlet fever or Kawasaki disease are usually accompanied by a high fever and you should seek medical attention right away.
If your tongue looks whitish, it could be due to inflammation, dry mouth, or even. .a yeast infection! It's called thrush and our dental professionals will help diagnose and treat it.
Ulcers and Sore's
Canker and cold sores can be a pain—but they typically heal on their own. Nonhealing wounds in the mouth can sometimes indicate diabetes. As you may know, diabetics have a more difficult time healing. If you have a wound or sore that does not heal in a week or two, make an appointment to see us right away. You may need to have your blood sugar levels checked. In some cases, this can also indicate oral cancer. These lesions can appear as white areas (known as leukoplakia) or as red lesions (erythroplakia).
Symptoms of Oral Cancer include:
-Swellings/thickenings, lumps or bumps, rough spots/crusts/or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth
-Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
-Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck
-Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within 2 weeks
-A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
-Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
-Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice
-A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together
-Dramatic weight loss
We hope that our patients understand that early detection is key. Some patients will skip out on routine dental visits to save money or because they “don’t have dental insurance”. If you don't have insurance please talk to our front desk. We offer a reasonable and cost effective in house dental plan that covers everything from dental cleanings to dental implants.
If dental issues are detected and treated at an earlier stage you could avoid major tooth destruction, pain or even a life-threatening infection. And you will save money and time!