Thyroid disease affects about 30 million people in United States alone and is growing fairly quickly. Thyroid disease makes it difficult for the body to produce and regulate hormone levels in the body. It is a disease that can be very difficult to diagnose because it can affect so many systems in the body. Even the smallest changes in thyroid function can have a major impact on ones overall health. Does thyroid disease also affect your dental health?
Possible Effect of Thyroid Disease on Dental Health
Increased Periodontal Disease Risk. Thyroid disease can inhibit the ability of the body to heal wounds properly. Periodontal disease causes destruction and inflammation and without proper healing periodontal disease can take hold and be difficult to manage. If oral tissues are in a weakened state it will be more difficult to ward off infection and to stay healthy. Studies have also linked periodontal disease to general health diseases like cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Macroglossia. This is a fancy term for an enlarged tongue. This is a fairly common symptom in people with thyroid disease. A swollen or enlarged tongue can affect speech, eating, and even swallowing. It has also been shown to affect sleep as the enlarged tongue can block the airway, breaking normal sleep cycles.
Xerostomia or Dry Mouth. Our saliva is natures way of lubricating and cleaning our mouths. Salivary glands produce saliva that is washing and coating our teeth and oral tissues. Thyroid disease can cause dry mouth either through the disease itself or the medications prescribed. Decreased saliva can lead to increased incidence of tooth decay.
Burning Mouth Syndrome (also called glossodynia). This syndrome causes a burning pain in the mouth and tongue.
Change In Taste Sensation (dysgeusia). Thyroid disease may cause your sense of taste to become distorted or just change over time. This may make eating a well balanced diet difficult. This can lead to a decreased quality of health.
Accelerated Dental Eruption. This is for children affected by thyroid disease. It is possible for teeth to erupt earlier and faster than normal, affecting proper development in these children.
Thyroid disease is generally diagnosed by an endocrinologist using blood tests. Thyroid disease needs to be constantly monitored and medications adjusted to prevent the disease from wreaking havoc on the body and your dental health. Since thyroid disease has many oral symptoms, your dentist may be the first healthcare provider to be aware of the possible presence of thyroid disease. If you notice any of the above changes speak to your dentist or physician to see what needs to be done to diagnose your situation.