Early Warning: What Your Teeth Say About the Rest of Your Body

Earlier we wrote about the connection between oral health and overall health, and how keeping your teeth healthy can be beneficial to the rest of your body.

But there is a flipside when it comes to the relationship between the mouth and body. Many different medical conditions can affect the health of your teeth and gums, essentially flashing a warning signal that something is wrong.

Know how to spot these signs early.*

Sign: Teeth-Grinding

Grinding your teeth at night is often a sign of serious anxiety. When the 2009 financial crisis hit, the number of people who grind their teeth took a big jump, reflecting the stress people were feeling. Sleep disturbances leading to grinding/clenching may also be a result of sleep apnea, a disturbance in breathing during the night that can be a fatal health problem. A sleep study prescribed by your physician can help reveal this issue.

Tooth grinding can compound the feelings of stress, causing headaches and jaw pain. People afflicted with this will actually wear down their teeth and flatten them. Pay attention to any of these symptoms, they can be the only indication that there’s a problem.

Most tooth grinding occurs at night, while the sufferer is asleep. This is often exacerbated by caffeine use less than nine hours prior to sleep and the use of lit computer screens/TV prior to bed. It is like turning on your bedroom lights in the middle of the night. The brain is challenged, sleep is disrupted and clenching/grinding occurs. Many apps can be downloaded to assist with meditation and sleep and are very effective!

If it gets serious enough, you might need to wear a mouth guard at night to protect your teeth.

It’s important to recognize stress and to find the best way of dealing with it. As we all know, excessive stress and disease are heavily linked.

(Above image via http://dentalcarematters.com/wp-content/uploads/types-of-cracked-tooth.jpg)

Cracked Teeth

If you watch enough toothpaste commercials, you know that enamel is the thin shell that covers teeth. There are a number of things that can cause this shell to wear away over time, ranging from being dealt a bad genetic hand, to a diet too high in sugar and starches.

But if the wearing is serious enough that it causes cracked and chipped teeth, this can be a symptom of a nasty acid reflux disease called GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease). GERD causes a backup of stomach acid that washes into your mouth dissolving the enamel.

GERD is also associated with heartburn and intestinal trouble. A combination of these symptoms could indicate a serious problem.

Prolonged Canker Sores

I’m sure you’re familiar with these painful discolored sores that appear often when you bite your lip. However, if an open sore persists for more than two weeks it’s worth making an appointment with a dentist or doctor to rule out the possibility of oral cancer.

Mouth cancer is the 13th most prevalent cancer in Canada (out of 23) with around 3,400 new cases diagnosed each year. The survival rate is 63 per cent. The key to fighting this disease is early detection, so it’s important to see someone if you have a sore that won’t go away.

The mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body. It’s important to maintain a good routine of brushing flossing and regular checkups to ensure a healthy smile, and good overall health. If problems with your oral health persist in the face of this, you should pay attention: your body might be trying to tell you something.

*Disclaimer: Of course the presence any of these signs does not necessarily mean you have any of these conditions: self-diagnosis never did anyone any good. Always consult with your health-care professional for appropriate evaluations/care/referrals to specialists.