Thyroid disease, a disorder that affects an estimated 30 million Americans, is best known for its effects on hormone levels in your body. The condition, which is more prevalent in females, poses a greater threat to those who are older and have a family history of thyroid problems. Dr. Thanasi Loukas of Park Ridge Dental explains why dental exams in Park Ridge, IL are especially important for patients who have been diagnose with thyroid problems.
How Does Thyroid Disease Impact Oral Health?
Your thyroid plays an important role in your body’s ability to heal following an injury or infection, making you more susceptible to gum disease. In an otherwise healthy individual who has gingivitis, the gums are able to regenerate to some degree. At this point, it is possible to treat the infection while reversing any damage caused by gingivitis. The longer you wait to seek treatment for gum disease, the more likely you are to develop periodontitis, a more severe infection capable of causing irreversible damage to your gums and other connective tissue. Periodontal disease also happens to be the leading cause of tooth loss among adults, an effect compounded in thyroid patients.
During your dental exam, Dr. Loukas will examine your mouth for signs of gingivitis and advanced gum disease. If the disease has progressed, he may recommend scaling and root planing along with more frequent professional cleanings.
Macroglossia, or an enlarged tongue, occurs more frequently among thyroid patients. The severity varies from one person to another, with the most dramatic cases interfering with the ability to speak or swallow food. If you develop an enlarged tongue, you are also more likely to experience sleep disturbances caused by difficulty breathing. Snoring or breathing through your mouth during sleep causes your mouth to become dry.
Xerostomia, another name for dry mouth, is common in individuals who have problems regulating their hormone levels. Because your mouth relies on saliva to remineralize your teeth, neutralize acids, and prevent plaque buildup, you become significantly more likely to battle tooth decay and periodontal disease. Over-the-counter saliva substitutes are an excellent option, or you can opt for products that are specially formulated for dry mouth. Dr. Loukas can recommend a suitable product during your exam.
Adults and Children May Be Affected
While the majority of thyroid patients are adults, the condition can also affect children. Accelerated dental eruption is the most common oral health symptom related to thyroid problems. Because the permanent teeth erupt prematurely, they do not develop naturally. As a result, these teeth may not be fully formed, or they may be prone to cracks and breakage. Cavities are more likely, too.
Questions about medical conditions and oral health? To learn more about how your medical background affects your teeth and gums, or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Thanasi and Maria Loukas, contact our Park Ridge, IL general dentist office at 847.696.1919. We welcome patients living in Chicago, Park Ridge, and the surrounding areas.