It makes sense that our mouths have a major impact on our body, considering it’s the main portal that lets in the things we need most to survive: water, food, air. Unfortunately, our mouth can also allow negative things into our bodies by way of processed or unhealthy foods, germs, pollution, and more. Just as our mouth is the gateway, it also can offer hints about problems in our body. There are eight clear signs that you should pay attention to that may mean a deeper, bigger problem than an oral condition: Oral pain, swollen gums, dry mouth, dark spots on the teeth, a change in flavors or smells of your food, loose or crumbling teeth, bad breath, and thickened saliva.
Tooth or Oral Pain Could be More Than Cavities
It’s always initially assumed that sharp tooth pain means tooth decay or a weak spot in the enamel that’s allowing tooth sensitivity. While this is a great thought on the matter, something else might be to blame, specifically if the pain is in the upper jaw. Upper teeth’s roots share the same space as sinus floor, so pain in your upper jaw could mean a major sinus infection. A great way to check this is to bend down and touch your toes from a standing position. If the pain persists, it’s probably a sinus infection. You’ll need to see a physician rather than a dentist.
Excessive Gingivitis May Signal Pregnancy
Gingivitis, or red swollen and bleeding gums, can signal a lot of oral problems such as plaque and tartar build-up, oral infection, or gum disease. However, another major happening could be the cause of regularly uncomfortable gums. Hormones changes due to pregnancy are also a common source. Heightened levels of progesterone during pregnancy allow certain gingivitis-causing bacteria to flourish, as well as make gum tissue more sensitive to plaque and amplify the body’s response to the toxins plaque releases. Most dentists have had the pleasure of suggesting that women might be pregnant and not know it simply by examining her gums.
Bone-Dry Mouth Could Point to a Few Health Issues
Dry mouth is one of the biggest indicators that something isn’t right with the body. Dozens of health problems can be associated with a lack of moisture in the mouth. Dehydration is a common reason because it lowers the production of saliva. The 4 million Americans who have Sjögren’s syndrome also experience xerostomia, extreme chronic dry mouth. This is due to a weakened immune system. Other auto-immune diseases like Parkinson’s or HIV/Aids can also cause dry mouth, so if you’re tongue or gums are uncomfortably dry, it may be time to see a dentist or doctor.
Dark spots or Enamel Pits Could Signal a Dietary Problem
While cavities can stain or discolor tooth enamel from the inside out, another issue might be a-tooth. Celiac Disease is also known to deeply discolor teeth, including whitish, yellow, or brown spots, or deep pitting or grooves in the enamel. Steven Goldberg, D.D.S., a Boca Raton dentist and inventor of DentalVibe told Shape.com that “About 90 percent of people with Celiac have these problems with their teeth enamel. When the onset of celiac disease occurs during childhood, the resulting poor nutrition can lead to a malformation of the developing tooth enamel.”
Off Taste of Favorite Foods
It may be typical that if you’re meal taste funny or outright unappetizing, you’ll assume you’re getting sick. This is primarily because smell and taste are closely related, and a germ infestation and the resulting phlegm can plug up your sniffer. Unfortunately, it can be more serious than that. Both vitamin deficiencies and chemosensory disorders can be attributed to this problem.
Chemosensory disorders are less known, and can include partial or full loss of the sense of taste or smell. These two senses are closely related, and can create serious bodily troubles. Taste and smell problems mess with the part of the brain that responds to food as a pleasurable experience, thereby undermining nutrition. Often the inability to swallow due to lack of or negative taste, food particles tend to stay in the oral cavity, and makes cleaning it difficult.
Loose or Crumbling Teeth
Problems with gums usually result in loose teeth, and cavities can also result in this. If you’re teeth are coming loose unexpectedly or dissolving, it might be something more serious. Stress is the biggest culprit when it comes to this kind of warning sign from the oral cavity. Stress can be good or bad depending on circumstances, but all of it affects our brain the same. A high quantity of stress means an increase in the hormone called cortisol. In a vicious cycle, high stress situations make people about 50% less likely to properly care for their teeth according to WebMD.com. Stress also leads people to behaviors such as smoking, alcohol indulgence, and bruxism (tooth grinding).
Breathe That Could Knock a Cow Over
If you haven’t eaten any garlic, onions, or fish lately and your breath is still obnoxious for over a week, it may be time to see your doctor or dentist. It can be attributed to nasal infections, gastric reflux, or kidney failure. Fishy odors from your mouth could point to kidney or liver shut down. If your breathe isn’t gross, but exceptionally fruity, it could be a warning that your body is breaking down fat instead of sugar for energy. The sweet, fruit-like smells are the ketones, or by-products, of diabetes in your blood stream.
Thick or Pasty Saliva
Though thickened saliva may seem like an early stage of dry mouth or dehydration, it is actually its own warning sign for two things. First, imbalances of sugar will change the consistency of your mouth lubricant, allowing decay to also increase. This is mainly due to diabetes, and should be taken seriously. Thick or sticky saliva (as opposed to slimy or moist) may also be caused by the inconsistent swings of cortisol (hormone) in the brain due to stress.
Don’t Ignore the Signs
Sir William Osier, physician and founding father of John Hopkins Hospital, once said, “The mouth is the mirror to the body.” In this same vein of thought, your mouth can shed some light on the current condition of your body and any issues you might need to address. If you have any of these symptoms, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or dentist about it and schedule an exam and take the next step toward both bodily and oral health.