Does Thyroid Disease Affect Dental Health?
Thyroid disease makes it difficult for the body to produce and regulate the normal amount of important hormones. Thyroid disease is quite difficult to diagnose and it can have a ripple effect throughout the body throwing systems out of balance. Approximately 30 million Americans have thyroid disease ( more than half of them undiagnosed). Subtle changes in thyroid function can have a significant impact on our health. Women’s risk of developing thyroid problems is seven times that of men. A family history of thyroid problems and increasing age affect the chances of a woman developing thyroid problems. A woman has almost a one-in-five chance of facing some type of thyroid disease in her lifetime. The question we ask…Does thyroid disease also affect dental health? Read below to find out….
Possible Dental Health Symptoms Of Thyroid Disease
-Increased risk of periodontal disease. Thyroid conditions may inhibit the body’s ability to heal wounds. This can be quite dangerous for dental health as our gum tissues are constantly in a state of rebuilding and repair. If the gum tissue is in a weakened state it becomes more prone to infection than healthy gum tissues. With an increased risk of periodontal disease also comes an increased risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke). It is believed that oral bacteria passes into the bloodstream which can then attach to fatty plaques leading to clot formations. It has been shown in research that stroke victims are more likely to have an oral infection present vs. those who have not suffered from a stroke.
-Enlarged Tongue. This is also called Macroglossia. This can be a common symptom of thyroid disease sufferers. The swollen or enlarged tongue can make it difficult to perform simple activities like talking, eating, and swallowing. Sleep patterns can also be disrupted as those suffering from macroglossia may also find it difficult to fall asleep as the tongue can block the airway and wake the person with a gasp for air. Sleep deprivation can lead to its own disorders including mental fatigue and early development of Alzheimer’s disease.
-Dry Mouth (Xerostomia). Saliva acts as a buffer for our teeth and gums. The saliva constantly washes and coats our mouth maintaining a delicate balance. If salivary flow is reduced it can lead to increased tooth decay. Saliva also adds nutrients to our teeth keeping them strong to defend against attack by oral bacteria.
-Burning Mouth Syndrome. This is a condition that causes a burning pain in the mouth and tongue.
-Change In Taste Sensation. This is also referred to as Dysgeusia. Thyroid disease may cause your sense of taste to become distorted or just change over time. This may make healthy eating difficult which leads to a decreased quality of health.
-Accelerated Dental Eruption. This pertains to children with thyroid disease. It is possible for teeth to erupt earlier and faster than normal creating an issue in proper development for those children.
Thyroid Disease Conclusion
Thyroid disease must be accurately diagnosed with blood work, usually by an endocrinologist. The endocrinologist will monitor the disease, and update changes to thyroid medications to help them to maintain patient’s oral health. Due to the manifestation of oral signs, the dentist may be the first to suspect a serious thyroid disease disorder and play a key role in early diagnosis. If you notice any of these changes speak to your dentist and medical doctor. Be proactive in your dental and overall health care.