You probably give your teeth about 10 minutes of attention a day (if that) and think brushing and flossing every day means you’re in perfect oral health.
But oral hygiene deserves a bit more time, because your teeth may offer clues to other health problems. Several studies have shown a clear link between oral problems and serious health conditions in other parts of the body. Take a look at a few of these five symptoms, and be a little more aware of your pearly whites.
Symptom: Flat, Worn Down Teeth
While many people are aware that tooth grinding is a common problem, most people are surprised to learn they grind their own teeth! This is because people most often grind their teeth at night when they’re not even aware of it. If you notice cracking or worn down teeth accompanied by jaw pain and headaches, it could be a sign of teeth grinding. Grinding your teeth at night, also known as bruxism, is a major sign of emotional or psychological stress. Relaxing before bed can help, but it may not stop the grinding. Ask your dentist about a bite guard to wear at night that will protect your teeth from wear and tear.
Sores in the mouth are a common occurrence for most people. Many bite the insides of the mouth or lips, creating sores that usually heal in a couple of days. Crater-like sores inside or outside the mouth are canker sores, which can be caused by stress, hormones, allergies, or some type of nutritional deficiency. However, if you see red or white sores that stick around for longer than a week or two, its time to see your dentist. These sores can sometimes indicate oral cancer, and your dentist could do an oral exam to identify the cause of the sore.
Symptoms: Cracking, Crumbling Teeth
Some may assume that teeth naturally deteriorate or fall away with age, which is not true. If you notice crumbling teeth or thin, translucent enamel, it could be a sign of a larger problem. You could have acid coming up from the stomach and into the mouth, dissolving valuable enamel. This condition is known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease, otherwise known as acid reflux disease. Other symptoms of this problem may be dry mouth or heartburn. Leaving this untreated can cause problems not only for the mouth but also for the rest of the body.
Symptom: Bad Breath
You probably don’t think twice about bad breath, chalking it up to the garlic-laden dinner from the night before. However, an odor that sticks around for more than two weeks could be a sign of gum disease. When the bacteria that cause gum disease mixes with normal mouth bacteria, it creates a strong smell. A lingering smell could also point to a host of other problems, including respiratory disease, diabetes, gastric reflux or even kidney failure. If your halitosis is persistent, check with your dentist to find a solution to your particular problem.
Symptom: White Web-like Pattern on Inner Cheeks
White, lacy patterns on the inside of your cheek is almost always a sign of lichen planus, a type of skin disease. The disease can manifest on other areas of the skin like the hands or scalp through red, shiny bumps. The cause of the disease is unknown, and it isn’t dangerous or contagious, mostly just annoying. Although lichen planus will usually go away on its own, let your Dental Care Center dentist know next time you’re in the office.
Got a question about oral health? Ask us on Facebook.