They say that your eyes are the windows to your soul; for a holistic dentist, your mouth is a glimpse into your overall health. There is a lot of research that shows a number of links between the state of your mouth and how it relates to your overall health, helping us diagnose health conditions much earlier.
Burning Mouth Syndrome
A holistic dentist will often catch early diseases before they become severe or serious.
The symptoms of burning mouth include
- a burning sensation
- dry mouth
- taste changes, such as bitter or metallic taste
- loss of taste
Burning Mouth can be a symptom of:
- Dry mouth (xerostomia), which can be caused by various medications, health problems, problems with salivary gland function or the side effects of cancer treatment
- Other oral conditions, such as a fungal infection of the mouth (oral thrush), an inflammatory condition called oral lichen planus or a condition called geographic tongue that gives the tongue a map-like appearance
- Nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of iron, zinc, folate (vitamin B-9), thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and cobalamin (vitamin B-12)
- Dentures, especially if they don’t fit well, which can place stress on some muscles and tissues of your mouth, or if they contain materials that irritate mouth tissues
- Allergies or reactions to foods, food additives, fragrances, dyes or dental-work substances
- Reflux of stomach acid (gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD) that enters your mouth from your stomach
- Certain medications, particularly high blood pressure medications
- Oral habits, such as tongue thrusting, biting the tip of the tongue and teeth grinding (bruxism)
- Endocrine disorders, such as diabetes or underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
- Excessive mouth irritation, which may result from overbrushing your tongue, using abrasive toothpastes, overusing mouthwashes or having too many acidic drinks
- Psychological factors, such as anxiety, depression or stress, which can also lead to adrenal fatigue.
Auto-immune diseases, such as lupus, Crohn’s, celiac, and others can manifest early as mouth lesions, which means that your holistic dentist can be the first one to notice and help diagnose, as well as help you manage your condition.
Inflammation in the gums can contribute to heart disease. If you have chronic bacteria in your gums, this bacteria can travel to your heart. Gingivitis and periodontal disease, both diagnosed and treated during your regular check-up and cleaning appointment with your holistic dentist can help you on your way to heart health. Note that a sore and painful jaw could foreshadow an oncoming heart attack.
Canker sores can be an indication of gluten intolerance. A holistic dentist can help you with the diagnosis based on presence and frequency of these sores.
Osteoporosis causes changes in the bones that support your teeth. This may show up as receding gums, loose teeth and bone loss that is seen on X-rays.
Iron deficiency is common and can show up in your tongue, which will have a pale or bright-red look to it in an anemic person.
Purple hues to your tongue can pin point to high cholesterol
Oral infections can show up as lesions or a white coating in your mouth or tongue.
Bad breath or inflamed gums can be a sign of diabetes. Many diabetics often experience dry mouth as well.
Inflammation in the Body
Teeth or gums that are sensitive or chronically inflamed can be a sign of body inflammation.
A sore in your mouth that won’t heal within 14 days can point to cancer, which is on the rise especially among young people due to HPV.
Research has discovered that women who didn’t maintain healthy mouths took much longer to conceive. In addition, inflamed gums can increase the body’s production of the chemical prostaglandin E2, which can induce labour.
There are numerous signs of sleep apnea that can be found in the mouth, and a screening for sleep apnea is routinely done during your check up appointment in our office.
Erosion of enamel from the insides of teeth, especially the upper back molars and lower anterior teeth is a clue to reflux disease. Reflux disease can also cause erosion of the esophagus and may even lead to esophageal cancer.
Hypothyroidism & Adrenal Fatigue
Hypothyroidism and Adrenal Fatigue are often missed or not diagnosed early enough and many people suffer for years from related symptoms without knowing what’s wrong with their bodies. There are oral manifestations of hypothyroidism and adrenal dysfunction and a thorough history is important with patients if we suspect these issues.
As a holistic dentist, I often find that we are the first to see signs of these and many other systemic issues, and if caught early, we can help manage, with the help of your doctor or naturopath, to get you on your way to overall optimal health.