If you have low thyroid function, or hypothyroidism, then you have probably experienced some or all of its most common symptoms. They include fatigue, frequently feeling cold, weight gain or inability to lose weight, hair loss, and constipation. While these are the most common symptoms of low thyroid function, hypothyroidism can also cause oral symptoms. Here are some ways hypothyroidism can affect your mouth and what you can do about it.
Autoimmune disorders such as hypothyroidism can cause your tear and salivary glands to malfunction. Because of this, low thyroid function may cause dry eyes and a dry mouth. Autoimmune-related dry mouth can be so severe that it can be uncomfortable to eat, swallow, and even talk.
To help restore oral moisture, drink plenty of water throughout the day and limit your intake of alcoholic beverages and caffeine. If increasing your water intake fails to improve the symptoms of dry mouth, talk to your family dentist about recommending a lubricating mouthwash that will help keep you comfortable. These special mouthwashes are often enzyme based and do not contain alcohol, which further dries out the oral mucosa.
Another way hypothyroidism can affect your mouth is that it can heighten your risk for developing oral infections. Because autoimmune disorders such as hypothyroidism can cause salivary gland malfunction, you may not produce enough saliva to adequately rinse away infection-causing bacteria that has accumulated inside your mouth.
Because of this, you may be more prone to developing gingivitis and dental abscesses. If measures are not implemented to restore oral moisture, a severe form of gum disease known as periodontitis may develop. This condition can cause the breakdown of gum tissue and damage to the underlying bone. When the bones that support your teeth are damaged or weak, you may experience tooth loosening or tooth loss.
At the first sign of gum disease such as inflammation, extreme redness, irritation, or bleeding, make an appointment with your family dentist. He or she will perform an oral examination, and if needed, will refer you to a periodontist, a dentist specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of gum diseases.
If you have hypothyroidism or other autoimmune disorders, see both your dentist and endocrinologist on a regular basis. When thyroid-related oral problems are recognized and addressed early on, you will be less likely to experience dry mouth, gingivitis, periodontitis, or systemic complications of low thyroid function such as a heightened risk for cardiovascular disease and elevated blood lipid levels.
Contact a dentist like John S. Lyon DDS for more information.