It’s no secret that the mouth links to the rest of the body. It’s a window into our overall health. Disease in the body can present in the mouth and disease in the mouth can affect the rest of the body. There are clear connections between dental plaque and periodontal disease linking to adverse pregnancy outcomes, cardiovascular disease, bacterial pneumonia, and diabetes.
The Global Burden of Disease Study 2016 stated that oral diseases affected approximately half of the world’s population (3.58 billion people) with dental caries (tooth decay) in permanent teeth being the most prevalent. Periodontal disease (severe gum disease) was estimated to be the 11th most prevalent disease worldwide.
How does disease in the body present in the mouth?
There are a range of diseases in the body that may present in the mouth. A few of these are highlighted below:
- Ulcers – HIV infection, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, cancer
- Bleeding gums – blood disorders
- Tooth wear – dietary acids, acid reflux, bulimia or anorexia
- Bone loss – skeletal osteoporosis
- Periodontal disease – uncontrolled diabetes mellitus is associated with more severe destructive periodontal disease
- Dry mouth – after radiotherapy, dry mouth, Sjögren’s syndrome
- Bad breath – gut microbiome, kidney issues
People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease and tooth loss. This may present as bleeding and swollen gums or ‘wobbly’ or ‘shaky’ teeth.
Moderate to advanced gum disease can affect the heart with studies indicating that the two conditions share many risk factors, such as smoking, poor diet, and diabetes.
When the kidneys are not breaking down proteins fully, an unpleasant taste or odour in the mouth may be detected. Stress can certainly affect the immune system reducing bacterial defenses leading to oral health issues.
Other medical problems including thyroid issues, blood pressure, sleep disorders, skin rashes, teeth grinding, digestive issues and breathing problems may be detected in the mouth. Salivary tests can also indicate the presence of alcohol, nicotine, drugs, hormones, toxins, and antibodies.
If you notice anything unusual in the mouth it’s important to have it assessed to rule out any underlying causes.