What Your Mouth Tells You About Your Overall Health

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The mouth can speak volumes about your health since it is an essential anatomical component that plays a vital part in speech, breathing and digestion. Because of this, there are several types of diseases that can manifest orally, which is why you should immediately visit your dentist for any abnormal findings.


Diseases with Oral Manifestations

1. Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) wherein parts of the gastrointestinal tract become swollen. Though there are several tell-tale signs of Crohn’s disease, such as persistent diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and rectal bleeding, to name a few, the mouth can also offer clues to a physician that a child or adult could be suffering from the condition. For example, the following symptoms could be observed on the facial or mouth area – swelling of the lips, gums or mouth tissue; cobblestone appearance of buccal mucosa (inside of the cheek); or canker sores. Other gastrointestinal problems that have oral symptoms include ulcerative colitis, which presents with canker sores or hemorrhagic (bleeding) mouth ulcers, and gastroesophageal reflux, which hastens tooth enamel erosion and affects dentin development.


2. Blood Disorders

Blood disorders may be verified upon completion of extensive blood tests, but the mouth can also hint at certain conditions like anemia. A person with anemia will have the following oral symptoms: glossitis or inflammation of the tongue; oral candida; canker sores; or stomatitis. Stomatitis is a condition wherein the mucosal lining of the mouth becomes inflamed, and this could affect cheeks, gums, and the roof of the mouth.


3. Pulmonary Conditions

A doctor can tell if a person is suffering from certain pulmonary conditions just by taking a peek inside his mouth. To illustrate, someone with Wegener granulomatosis, a rare disease that causes the blood vessels to become inflamed, will have mouth sores and gum enlargement. Gingival swelling, in such cases, is termed as “strawberry gingivitis.” Sarcoidosis, another condition characterized by the growth of inflammatory cells in many areas, like the lungs and lymph nodes, can also manifest orally. The affected person could develop several painless mouth ulcers in the gums, cheek (buccal mucosa), and palate.


4. Conditions Due to Drugs

Over-the-counter medicines or even those prescribed by a doctor could have side effects, including aphthous lesions (mouth ulcerations). Any type of medicine can trigger the formation of sores, but the most common culprits are NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and ACE inhibitors, which are primarily used to treat hypertension. Another adverse effect is dry mouth. This can be due to the effect of certain medications, like anticholinergic drugs, which decreases saliva production, and diuretics, which could cause dehydration.


5. HIV

HIV is a dreaded disease that can also have oral symptoms. Most HIV-infected individuals develop oral candidiasis, specifically pseudomembranous candidiasis. Also, since those with HIV have weak immune systems, they could develop herpes simplex, which is indicated by lesions within the mouth. Such ulcerations are often found under the tongue, gums and palate. Some also develop near the lips, on the tongue, or the buccal tissue.


Claire Kurt is a full-time freelancer who has written hundreds of articles for the internet. She often writes about dental health issues, and she recommends Johns Creek Dental Service for those with concerns about oral health.



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