Everything inside your mouth has a purpose beyond what we normally think of. For instance, the teeth and gums are not just there to chew food and the tongue is not just for tasting or making faces. The condition of these body parts are also indicators of a person’s oral and general health.
It may seem like a simple case of your gums bleeding or a buildup of plaque. But dentists know that these oral issues are not what they seem and could be a sign of something more serious. Experienced dentists in Dubai share some of the conditions that could develop when you have poor dental health.
Type 2 Diabetes
Otherwise known as severe gum disease, having periodontitis is an early indicator of type 2 diabetes. In one study that involved 300 middle aged adults with periodontitis, researchers discovered that approximately a quarter of the participants showed that they were at a higher risk of developing diabetes. Some of the participants were overweight or obese, which raised the stakes even higher.
Almost 20 percent of the participants had type 2 diabetes that had been previously diagnosed. The data was significantly higher as compared to 10 percent of individuals with mild to moderate forms of gum disease and 8.5 percent with no trace of gum issues.
People with diabetes or have a high likelihood of developing the disease are prone to developing an infection. Blood circulation is poor in people with diabetes. This causes wounds to heal much slower, and they become more susceptible to infections.
With having both periodontitis and diabetes, you are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer as well. No studies have shown a clear correlation between the different health conditions, although researchers have their own guesses. One of the assumptions is that some of the bacteria in your mouth may have found their way to the lungs and have a hand in growing cancer cells.
Compared to gum disease, gum bleeding in your mouth is not always a bad sign. It could actually be good news, depending on how you see it.
For some women, sudden gum sensitivity or inflammation could be a sign of pregnancy. Studies reveal that gingivitis is a common condition among pregnant women. As the hormone levels change and fluctuate, more blood is pumped to the gum line in your mouth.
The increase in blood flow causes the gums to appear more swollen and can become sensitive. As a result, pregnant women are more likely to experience gingivitis.
What’s more, the influx of new hormones can negatively affect the body’s natural ability to fight bacteria. Plaque can build up quickly as a result.
A healthy tongue should look pink. If you see parts that are covered in a whitish substance, you may be seeing an overgrowth of yeast. Otherwise known as oral thrush, the excess can be caused by many factors: hormonal changes, stress, compromised immune system, or even medication.
Try brushing your tongue and observe what happens. You have nothing to worry about if the white substance disappears after brushing your teeth and tongue. On the other hand, consider seeing your local dentist for some professional dental services if the material remains in your mouth.
Your teeth don’t need to be rotten to the core for you to be sick. Even mild forms of gum disease can increase your risk levels for having a stroke in later years. Studies show that your risk doubles depending on the severity of your condition.
However, proving causation is more complicated. Although there is an increased risk, scientists cannot prove causation. This is because gum disease can also be caused by age and type 2 diabetes — risk factors that are also common in individuals who have had a heart attack or stroke.
Observe the color of your tongue. If it looks overly red, you might have what is known as Kawasaki disease.
This disease is more common in Japan than in any other country and typically affects young kids under the age of five. In kids who have the disease, the blood vessels become red, swollen, and inflamed. Individuals who do develop this disease also become more prone to developing heart problems later on in life.
On the flip side, an exceedingly red tongue can also be an indication of a vitamin deficiency. Lack of vitamin B-12 or folic acid in the body can manifest in the form of a red tongue. In such instances, all you need is to take the right supplements with your regular diet.
Poor teeth health can also be an indicator of an underlying eating disorder. The teeth of people with bulimia typically look eroded. This may due in part to how their body works.
In patients with bulimia, their teeth become more exposed to bile acid. The constant passing of stomach acid melts through the enamel, causing it to get thinner. As time progresses, the teeth changes, becoming yellower and more sensitive as the pulp underneath becomes exposed.
Several studies show a strong relationship between gum disease and osteoporosis. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, osteoporosis affects the density of the jaw bone that provides support to your teeth. With weaker, less dense bones, your body is more likely to lose teeth.
White patches on the tongue can mean one of potentially two possible conditions. One is leukoplakia. This condition is caused by excessive smoking, whether it is in the form of tobacco or cigarettes.
In more severe cases, the white patches could also be an indication of oral cancer. It would be best to schedule a visit to the dentist to cross out any other possibilities.
Indicators of health
As you can see, oral issues can be early indicators of more severe conditions. Following good oral hygiene practices such as brushing your teeth and flossing after every meal is necessary. By doing so, you are preventing or reducing your chances of developing certain forms of cancer or other chronic ailments.
If in doubt, schedule a visit with your dentist at least twice a year. By checking in with your dentist, you can get a better idea of your oral health and get tips on how to keep your mouth, including teeth, gums, and tongue, clean and healthy.
Dr. Zul Paliwalla is the General and Cosmetic British Dentist at NOA Dental Clinic, specializing in smile-related concerns. With over 33 years of experience in the UK, Dr. Zul has successfully worked on and improved many internationally recognized smiles. He is a certified Invisalign® GOLD provider as well and has brought his elite expertise to Dubai not only to enjoy the sun, sea and sand, but also to offer his brand of personalized smile makeovers.