PUBLISHED IN TCI WEEKLY NEWS
15th November 2014
Following on from my last column, this piece continues to look at issues you might be experiencing in your mouth and their wider implications for your general health.
Ulcers/ Recurrent Sores: Stress, compromised immunity (common), Oral cancer (less common but serious)
When an open sore in the mouth doesn’t go away within a week or two, it always warrants visiting a dentist or doctor. Although it is common to suffer from mouth ulcers when we are stressed and our immune system is suppressed, if a problem area persists, this should be checked. Look out for raised sores with red or white borders as well as bleeding and numbness. More than 30,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year, most over the age of 60. Cases are often detected late and if you are a smoker your risk is increased.
Bleeding Gums: Gum Disease
It is estimated that gum disease affects more than 50% of the population. Bleeding gums during or after brushing – as well as bad breath – can be a sign that you have gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums.
If left untreated, a condition called periodontitis can develop – an infection of the tissues and bones that support teeth and hold them in place. In severe cases, this can cause the bone in the jaw to decay, small spaces to open up between the gum and teeth and ultimately, teeth can become lose and fall out. Gum disease has also been linked to other serious health problems such as heart disease, strokes, cancer and diabetes. Please note that bleeding gums and gum disease are more common during pregnancy so it wise to ensure you continue with your regular dental check-ups at this time.
Flattened, Worn teeth: Stress
Grinding your teeth at night (bruxism) can often be a sign of emotional or psychological stress which can manifest itself when we are asleep. Many people are surprised when they learn that they are tooth-grinders but dentists will normally recognise this straight away by the texture and consequential flatness of the teeth.
Symptoms of bruxism include unexplained jaw ache and headaches. To prevent damage to teeth, sufferers can have custom-made mouth guards made by dental professionals to relieve the symptoms and protect teeth at night.
This is just a very brief guide. In all these cases, or if you are experiencing any other concerning symptoms, visit your dentist for a professional examination.