As long as your teeth are white, and your breath smells decent, you probably haven’t put much thought into your oral health.
Yet, even if you brush and floss every day – practicing the best oral hygiene and most proper oral hygiene possible – you could be missing some signs regarding the state of your overall health, that show up in the mouth.
Research has shown that there is a correlation between oral problems and serious health conditions in the rest of your body. Thus, next time you are practicing oral hygiene, keep these clues - and oral hygiene instructions - in mind that may mean there is another issue…
Sharp Tooth Pain
A lodged popcorn kernel can cause some discomfort, which can easily be treated. The “sharp pain” we’re talking about here is something totally different. If you have sharp pain in your teeth when you bite down or chew, you should see your dentist immediately. This pain could mean there is tooth decay or a cavity--an oral health issue. However, an ache in your top teeth may be an indicator of a sinus infection. This is because the sinuses are directly above the roots of your upper teeth. An x-ray should be able to determine if your sinuses are clogged.
The majority of people think bleeding gums are normal, but they’re not. Bleeding gums could mean you need to step up your oral hygiene or you could have periodontal disease. Gum disease can be very dangerous to the rest of the body. The bacteria that is causing your gums to bleed can also enter the bloodstream, inflaming your arteries and affecting your heart.
Cracking, Crooked, or Loose Teeth
Cracking, crooked, or loose teeth could indicate that you need to check your mental health, rather than physical health. These problems can be a sign of tooth grinding, often caused by stress, correlating oral hygiene and health. Stress triggers muscle tension in your jaw. Your dentist can give you a bite guard to wear at night to prevent grinding.
White Bumps on Your Tongue
White bumps can be the result of poor oral hygiene, dry mouth, or a medication you’re taking. It may also be related to thrush—an overgrowth of bacteria. It is more likely to occur in babies and people who wear dentures. But if it’s seen in an otherwise-healthy adult, it should be checked out. Swollen white nodes toward the back could also indicate HPV. Your dentist would need to do a biopsy to be sure.
Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications, such as antidepressants and antianxiety medications. If that is the case, the issue still needs to be taken care of because moisture in the mouth prevents cavities, tooth decay, and gingivitis.
On the other hand, if you experience cracked or sore lips, or bleeding gums, these can be signs of Sjogren’s syndrome. This is an autoimmune disease that can be treated with medication or surgery. At the end of the day, you still need to visit your dentist to determine the cause of these symptoms
Your lunch is often not the sole cause of bad breath, most of the time, it’s a build-up of bacteria that’s to blame. Try brushing your tongue after you brush your teeth and using a tongue scraper to clean the back of the tongue. A toothbrush alone is not enough to remove the bacteria and is not really practicing "good dental hygiene." If this doesn’t work, there could be a more serious issue such as respiratory disease, post-nasal drip, uncontrolled diabetes, or even, kidney failure. Yet, don’t be alarmed—be proactive and reactive when necessary. Visit your dentist and he or she will be able to refer you to another professional if further investigation is needed.