What Medical Conditions Can Impact Your Oral Health?

Many people are aware of how foods and drink can affect their health and what is needed to minimize this damage to their mouths. However, they may not be aware of how medical conditions can affect their oral health too. Here, Holly House Dental gives some advice on some of the illnesses and conditions that may also impact your oral health.

Diabetes

People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease, as their control over their blood sugar levels is often poorer than those who aren’t diabetic. High blood sugar levels over a period of time are associated with premature degeneration of eyes, nerves, kidneys and blood vessels. They will heal more slowly due to having diabetes, and this can impact the rate of recovery. Oral health problems associated with diabetes are:

  • Tooth decay
  • Taste impairment
  • Gum disease
  • Dry mouth
  • Lesions in the mouth
  • Infection and delayed healing

If you have diabetes, to get the best course of treatment, make sure to inform your dentist of these critical pieces of information.

  • Is your diabetes under control?
  • If you are taking insulin, when was the last dosage taken?
  • Has there been any change in your medical history?
  • What are the names of the medication you are on?

Epilepsy

It is vital for epilepsy sufferers to inform their dental practitioner of their condition in case of a seizure during treatment. During a seizure, the teeth, tongue, and lips may get damaged. If they are on the medication Epanutin for their epilepsy, it is even more critical that they have good oral hygiene as this drug can cause the gums to overgrow.  

Cancer

Many cancer treatments have side effects that affect a person’s mouth, teeth, and salivary glands. Some of the oral side effects include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Mouth sores
  • Tooth decay or gum disease
  • Infection
  • Inflammation or pain in the lining of the mouth and tongue.

Having surgery as a part of treatment for cancer can make it difficult to brush teeth and keep the areas in and around the mouth clean. Surgery may also make areas very sensitive and painful to touch. It is best to use a soft toothbrush and maintain an excellent oral health routine as much as possible.   

HIV

Uncontrolled HIV can cause more problems in your mouth. As the immune system becomes weaker, gum disease is more likely to occur and develop quickly. Oral thrush is also common in people with a weakened immune system. Some of the first signs of HIV are ‘hairy leukoplakia’ which appears as furry white lesions on the tongue. Another side effect of HIV is a ‘dry mouth’ which is uncomfortable and more likely to develop into tooth decay and gum disease.

Eating disorders

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia all harm the mouth. People who have anorexia have a fear of gaining weight even when they are severely underweight. They may feel compelled to cause themselves to vomit and use laxatives to rid their body of excess weight.

Bulimia is the excessive overeating of unhealthy sweets and fatty foods which is followed by self-induced vomiting and the use of laxatives. This will cause severe mouth and teeth damage.

The adverse effects of vitamin and nutrient deficiencies will be reflected in the mouth. The purging by vomiting, which causes stomach acids will damage the teeth. These signs include:

  • Teeth erosion.
  • Cracked, dry lips and mouth sores
  • Dry mouth and enlarged salivary glands
  • Cold and hot sensitivity in teeth.

People with good oral health should visit the dentist regularly and have checkups between 3 months to 2 years. Those with medical conditions that can affect their oral health will need check-ups more often, and the dentist will advise the frequency of visits and a course of treatment. 

Published by Ruby Daub

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