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Medical Conditions A - Z

What Your Mouth Can Tell You About Your Health

If your eyes are the windows to your soul, then your mouth is the mirror to your health

If your eyes are the windows to your soul, then your mouth is the mirror to your health.

Your oral health is a good indicator of your overall health. Certain conditions, such as gum diseases or stained teeth, can be symptoms of more serious problems like diabetes or vitamin deficiency.

Here are some common mouth conditions, and what they may mean:

Dry and Cracked Lips

Commonly associated with dehydration, dry and cracked lips around the lip corners are also a sign of certain nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin B. It is also closely linked to iron-deficiency anaemia, and in some cases, an impaired immune system due to infection.

Worn and Chipped Teeth

During stressful periods, you may grind or clench your teeth subconsciously. Over time, this may cause cracks in your teeth, which may require dental treatment to fix. You may also experience tension headaches at the side of your temples, or muscle soreness at your cheeks, which may be felt right after waking, and will subside by the evening.

Yellowed or Stained Teeth

If you are a frequent coffee drinker or do not go for regular scaling and polishing, your teeth may appeared stained. Certain medical conditions, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), will also cause stained teeth. When you sleep, stomach acid backs up from your stomach to your mouth and corrodes the enamel of your teeth. This exposes your teeth’s yellow inner layer, also known as dentine, which causes your teeth to look yellowed. People with bulimic tendencies may also have yellowed teeth.

Bleeding and Receding Gums

Very often, bleeding gums or periodontal diseases is caused by poor oral health. Sometimes, it can be an indication of more serious diseases in your body, like heart disease or diabetes.

Your gums are filled with blood vessels, and when it bleeds, it becomes an entry point for bacteria in your mouth to enter the bloodstream, eventually reaching your heart. Some of these bacteria can cause blood clots to form, which can potentially obstruct blood flow and causing a heart attack. Studies have shown there are less of such bacteria in your body when your gums are disease-free. So, by keeping your gums healthy, you are lowering the risk of diseases in your body as well.

Bleeding gums may also act as a transmission pathway for diseases. Blood is the most common vector of transmission of many serious diseases, including Hepatitis and HIV. It is important that we are aware of these in our efforts to maintain good oral health, while avoiding spreading infections.

Similarly, people with diabetes have weakened healing ability and are more susceptible to infections. If you find yourself having frequently inflamed or bleeding gums, it could be a sign of undiagnosed diabetes. 

Cavities (dental caries)

If your dentist finds an unusually large number of cavities during your last dental examination, take note – this may be a warning sign of diabetes as well.  People with high blood sugar may have higher levels of glucose in their saliva, which promotes the growth of bacteria and plaque. Cavities form in your teeth when the acid in plaque attacks your teeth enamel, wearing it down.

Even if you practice good oral hygiene, it is still easy to miss out signs of the state of your oral health. When your dentist examines your mouth, he isn’t simply looking at your teeth. Scheduling regular checkups with your dentist allows him to pick up on anything that’s amiss, and you can seek further advice or treatment before any underlying health issues snowball to become more serious. If you haven’t had time for your routine checkup yet, schedule one with your dentist. Prevention is better than cure!

About Raffles Dental

In Singapore, Raffles Dental provides a comprehensive range of services to prevent, diagnose and treat dental and oral diseases. Conveniently located islandwide, we are dedicated to providing the highest standard of professional care and service.