Medical Conditions That Can Affect Your Oral Health

Medical Conditions That Can Affect Your Oral Health

Not many people know that diseases in different parts of your body can affect your oral health too. There are many medical conditions that can put you at risk of developing periodontal problems. It can potentially harm your teeth and gums. Sometimes, it may be the disease itself that results in varying teeth and gum problems, and in other cases it is the medications prescribed for a condition that can have a damaging effect on your mouth. From high blood pressure to diabetes, different illnesses can cause teeth erosion, bad breath and even change the color of your tongue. Here is a look at few of the diseases that can have a detrimental effect on your dental health-

Acid reflux

Acid Reflux induced erosion causes permanent and severe loss of tooth structure. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than seven million people suffer from severe acid reflux. When the lower esophagus muscle relaxes, it allows stomach acids to flow upwards to make its way into the mouth, which causes irritation of the esophagus and dental erosion. When the condition develops into GERD, the stomach acid corrodes the esophageal lining and causes heartburn. The stomach acid makes its way to the mouth and is contact with the teeth constantly, which de-mineralizes and removes layers of enamel from the surface of the teeth. Stomach acid is highly corrosive with a low pH of 2.0, and dental enamel can begin to erode even at a pH of 5.5.  GERD patients also develop dry mouth, which increases the chance of dental bacteria and plaque.
Your dentist will immediately be able to detect gastroesophageal reflux disease when he examines your mouth, because there are tell tale signs of erosion on your back teeth.  If you experience reflux episodes regularly, protect your teeth by taking over-the-counter antacids and getting prescribed H2 receptor blockers, rinsing your mouth thoroughly with water to reduce the effect of acid in your mouth. Never brush your teeth immediately after an acid reflux episode, as the bristles can easily damage the weakened enamel. To prevent nighttime reflux, do not to eat two to three hours before bed, and avoid triggers like spicy, fatty foods, citric fruits, alcohol, coffee and anything acidic.

Stomach ulcers

Ulcers can appear as sores in the lining of your stomach or small intestine due to the presence of the bacterium H. Pylori. Ulcers often weaken the protective lining of your stomach and though the sores themselves do not hurt your oral health, the medicines to treat the stomach ulcers can change the color of your tongue to black. The side effect will go away when you have finished with taking the medicines.

Chronic kidney disease

Doctors can often detect kidney problems by the smell of your breath. If your breath smells like fish or ammonia, it may be a sign of chronic kidney disease. When the kidneys are unable to filter waste and toxins from the blood, your breath will often take on the smell of your urine. Kidney disease is a serious condition that needs immediate attention, so do go for a check-up.


Diabetes is a commonly occurring inflammatory disease that affects your blood sugar and also has far reaching dental impact. People with diabetes are more prone to gum disease, cavities, infection and even teeth loss. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, do consult with your dentist for recommendations and be diligent with your daily brushing and flossing.

High blood pressure

About a quarter of Americans are afflicted with this dangerous condition. You should be aware of the possible effects of your prescribed medication to lower your blood pressure on the health of your gums. The use of antihypertensive medications like nifedipine, amlodipine and felodipine over a long period comes with the unwanted side effect of gingival enlargement, wherein your gums begin to swell and grow over your teeth. It results in immense difficulty while chewing and the enlarged gums also help plaque accumulate easily. This further leads to inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), and can develop into periodontal disease that destroys the tooth-supporting tissues. It is essential to maintain a regular oral care routine at home for efficient plaque removal by careful tooth brushing, and flossing. The use of fluoride toothpastes, mouthwashes and gels can prevent inflammation, and tooth loss. When gum growth advances despite thorough cleaning, dentists may have to consider minor surgery to remove part of the overgrown gum tissue in order to prevent infection.

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