We’ve said it many times before: Your mouth is a window to your overall health. So, pay attention. If you notice things aren’t quite right in there, it may signify a bigger problem that warrants investigation. Following are a few common problems you shouldn’t ignore.
If you simply haven’t brushed today, then bad breath is something you’d expect, of course. But if bad breath persists despite your best oral hygiene efforts, then it could be a clue to a serious health issue. It could signify periodontal disease, diabetic ketoacidosis, intestinal blockage, throat or lung infection, kidney failure or other life-threatening conditions.
It may simply mean that you need to drink more water or be the side effect of a medication you are taking, but persistent dry mouth without obvious explanation could indicate a number of conditions, including Sjögren's syndrome, mumps, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, anemia, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, Parkinson's disease or even impending stroke. Chances are whatever’s going on isn’t serious, but isn’t it best to explore the possibilities, especially if you’re experiencing other symptoms as well?
Brittle Teeth and Indigestion
If you’re teeth are cracking and breaking and you regularly find yourself battling heartburn, you could have gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. With this condition, stomach acids travel through the esophagus and back into the mouth, damaging the protective enamel on your teeth. You’ll want to see your dentist about repairing existing damage and your general practitioner about medications to prevent further damage.
The occasional ulcer or canker sore is no cause for concern, but frequent outbreaks almost always indicate a problem. And these problems can range from something as benign as a vitamin deficiency to conditions as serious as cancer and HIV/AIDS. The best place to start in determining the cause is at your dentist’s office, so if you have recurring sores in your mouth, make an appointment right away.
Worn Teeth and a Headache
These symptoms, when paired together, could mean you’re a nighttime teeth grinder! Some people grind their teeth in their sleep, typically as a response to stress, and they don’t even realize they’re doing it. If teeth-grinding goes unchecked for a long period of time, it could cause serious damage to your teeth. If you think you may be grinding your teeth, talk to your dentist about a simple way to prevent damage … and find ways to relieve stress!
Curtis H. Roy, D.D.S., has served Acadiana residents with a general dentistry and specialty practice since 1970. Find his practice on the Web at www.drcurtisroyandassociates.com, follow him on Facebook and Twitter, visit the office at 3703 Johnston St., Lafayette, or call 981.9811.