Dr. Terry Bass DDS advises that it is very important to understand the relationship between your thyroid health and your dental health.
When the thyroid is underactive and not producing enough thyroid hormone, it is called hypothyroidism. An autoimmune disease is usually the underlying source and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is most often the cause of hypothyroidism.
Thyroid Health and Dental Health Are Interrelated
According to Dr. Izabella Wentz, a doctor of pharmacy, the same bacteria that contribute to gum disease or periodontitis produce an inflammatory response associated with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Most patients with this autoimmune disease also have periodontitis. Also, please note that while fluoride is often regarded as a route to good dental health, it can make the condition worse for people with thyroid disorders, Wentz noted.
Thyroid disorders of any kind can also lead to the following oral health challenges:
Damaged or weakened gums are more likely to develop gum disease, which leads to an increased bacterial presence in the mouth. Not only does this increase the risk of infection but also the likelihood of swollen or bleeding gums and jaw spasms. Worse still, some research suggests that increased bacterial presence associated with gum disease may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. The thyroid is an important factor in the natural healing process. In a healthy system, gum tissue regenerates, which protects against periodontal disease and even contribute to the reversal of gingivitis. However, inhibited restorative ability caused by thyroid disease may lead to weakening or degradation of the gums.
Thyroid patients may develop a condition known as dysgeusia, in which their sense of taste is altered. In some cases, the change in flavor can be dramatic. This may result in dietary alterations that cause patients to avoid healthy foods and miss out on beneficial or essential nutrients that compound the issue.
Saliva is an important part of health by helping to maintain oral wellness. This natural protectant reduces the risk of cavities through the dissolution of foods, removal of bacteria and food particles, and prevention of plaque buildup. Saliva also delivers minerals and other nutrients critical for maintaining tooth strength and structure. Thyroid disease can limit saliva production thereby contributing to dry mouth. Without a regular supply of saliva, food particles can more easily cling to teeth, which increases the risk of bacterial growth, tooth decay, and cavities. With reduced saliva also comes reduced mineral delivery, which results in weaker teeth over time.
A common symptom of hypothyroidism is the expansion of the tongue. This can make it difficult for patients to chew, swallow, speak, and in some cases, even breathing can become a challenge. Those who do experience macroglossia-related breathing difficulties are often unable to get restful sleep. This is because the enlarged tongue may force the individual to snore or breathe with their mouth open. Sleeping with the mouth open can lead to oral dryness and contribute to tooth decay.
Those with an overactive thyroid are more likely to experience a hastening of tooth decay. This may be caused by the excess utilization and burning of nutrients caused by increased thyroid activity. The increased rate of tooth decay seen in hyperthyroid patients may cause patients to experience sensitivity in the teeth, pain in the jaw, and accelerated molar degradation.
Improper Tooth Development
Children who have a thyroid issue may experience development issues pertaining to their teeth and jaw. Some outcomes include crowded teeth, a premature eruption of permanent teeth, large gaps between teeth, enlarged or inflamed gums, gums extending between teeth, and increased occurrence of cavities. Parents who recognize that their child is experiencing pain or weakness in the jaw or abnormalities of the mouth should have their child’s thyroid assessed by a knowledgeable physician like an endocrinologist.
How to Protect Your Mouth by Supporting the Thyroid
Good oral hygiene through regular brushing and flossing is essential for maintaining a healthy mouth. However, protecting the thyroid and resolving any existing thyroid dysfunction is also important. The impressive impact of the thyroid on many areas throughout the body, including the mouth, makes it an essential system regarding individual wellness.
If you are suffering from a decline in oral health while also experiencing the common signs of thyroid disease such as fatigue, fluctuations in weight, and changes in mood speak with your doctor about having your thyroid tested. Resolving thyroid disease may not only alleviate dental distress but also improve overall wellness.
Proper management of thyroid disease is crucial for the successful treatment of periodontal diseases, says Wellness Alternatives. Untreated and longstanding thyroid disease, especially hypothyroidism, contributes to periodontal disease and can weaken the specialized tissues that support the teeth. If you have an underactive thyroid and are concerned about your oral health issues, contact Dr. Terry Bass DDS at 405-848-7780.