Teeth are not only important for chewing and talking, but they can also tell a lot about your overall health, as poor oral health has been linked to several systemic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and even certain types of cancer. Our mouth is the gateway to overall health and there’s a lot a very astute dentist can find out about your overall health just by looking inside your mouth.

From diabetes to dementia, surprising things your teeth can say about your health (Photo by Junior REIS on Unsplash)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr. Neetika Modi, Director of Studio Aesthetique at Dentofacial Aesthetics, said, “You may have type 2 diabetes. Severe gum disease. Periodontitis is an early sign of type 2 diabetes. Thus, diabetes can be controlled. Then a doctor can see if you are pregnant, if your general health is good and your gums are firm, and if you suddenly start bleeding in your mouth and your gums are inflamed, this can be an early sign of pregnancy. Patients with poor oral hygiene or gum disease are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Vitamin deficiency can be observed inside the mouth. In addition, it has less resistance to the microbial film coming from the plate. And vitamin B deficiency can affect enamel. And because of that, the enamel would be really thin.

She added: “Additionally, vitamin B deficiency can lead to cracked lips and cheeks. Ulcers, many ulcers burning sensation in the mouth. So different lesions with different vitamin deficiencies. Osteoporosis is linked to poor gum health and bone loss in teeth. So that’s another thing we can detect. Patients eat a lot of sugar when they have a lot of dental caries. Additionally, people with gum disease have an increased risk of lung cancer and developing lung disease. There is a link between gum disease, plaque buildup and cardiovascular disease. So, seeing a lot of plaque, I can always tell if the patient will be more predisposed to a heart attack or at risk for an ischemic stroke.

Another very interesting thing she pointed out is that your dentist would be able to notice if you have any type of eating disorder. She revealed: “Bulimia would be taken care of by a dentist. If you have erosion of your enamel, it happens when you vomit and the bile passes to the teeth, the acidic bile causing the enamel to wear away. This changes the shape and color of your teeth. Likewise, those who suffer from bulimia have this small swelling on one or both sides of their cheeks. It is therefore a presentation that a dentist can take over. People with periodontal disease are less likely to survive beyond age 80. So, due to other risk factors, how you take care of your gums plays a major role and your teeth play a major role in overall health.

Adding to the list of surprising things your teeth can reveal about your health, Dr. Vinisha Pandey, root canal specialist, laser dentistry and cosmetic dentist and founder of Dr. Vinisha Pandey Dentistry, pointed out –

  1. Your teeth are one of the best indicators of diabetes

Dentists can detect signs of diabetes after a thorough examination of the teeth and oral cavity. Diabetes weakens the overall immune system and in turn the mouth becomes prone to other infections such as periodontal disease, gum disease and tooth loss.

2. Pregnancy affects your teeth like it affects your body

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can weaken the body’s immune system and increase the risk of periodontal infections such as loose teeth and bleeding gums. This happened due to the constant buildup of plaque that leads to swollen and bleeding gums, commonly known as pregnancy gingivitis.

3. Your teeth indicate whether or not you are nutritionally deficient

Malnutrition and dietary deficiencies can lead to poor overall oral health. Vitamin D deficiencies, which help build strong bones, can lead to a range of oral diseases, including periodontal disease, dental malformations, tooth decay and gum disease.

4. You can lose your teeth to osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that can lead to tooth loss because the density of the bone that supports the teeth decreases over time. A correlation between decreased bone mass or osteoporosis and periodontitis has been established.

5. Listen to your dentist… to protect your heart

The American Dental Association has concluded that gum and periodontal infections are more common in people with heart disease. Heart attacks/strokes have been directly linked to tooth loss or gum disease.

6. Gritting your teeth….your body can scream

Our lives are not without stress, but constant and prolonged stress takes its toll on your body, including your oral cavity and your teeth. Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, can be a sign of excessive stress and is associated with temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

7. Eating disorders can lead to poor dental health

The eating disorder known as bulimia can lead to serious nutritional disorders which, in turn, lead to significant damage to the teeth and oral cavity. Bleeding around the soft tissues and gums in the mouth may also be observed.

8. Poor oral health plays a role in cognitive function leading to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

Elderly patients with a history of dental infections developed more Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive dysfunction than patients without a dental history. Brushing your teeth regularly twice and combining it with dental floss delays the process of development of Alzheimer’s disease.

9. Do you know that toothaches can also be caused by allergies?

Runny nose and sore throat – it may be a good idea to call your dentist. Allergies put pressure on the roots of your upper molars, which can stimulate a toothache. Mouth breathing frequently dries out the mouth and saliva, which is essential for removing food, plaque, and acids that can cause cavities.

10. Our teeth are unique

Our teeth are unique, just like our fingerprints. Even twins have different teeth. So protect your teeth and your oral cavity by having a regular dental check-up every 6 months.

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