Even when you feel physically well, your mouth could be telling a different story by revealing some warning signs of possible disease.
When the inside of your mouth becomes sore or painful, chances are, it’s trying to tell you something, and several conditions could be oral warning signs of bigger issues. Don’t ignore your symptoms—a serious illness could be brewing and delaying treatment could worsen it. It is not unusual for these early warning signs to be detected during your regular dental exam and is often the first opportunity for diagnosis and treatment.
White streaks or lesions on the inside of your mouth or throat or on your tongue may indicate a case of thrush. This is an oral yeast infection that occurs in both adults and children. The environment in your mouth is receptive to this disease when the yeast that normally resides there goes off balance, and an infection develops. Thrush most often occurs when the immune system is weak from chemotherapy treatments or steroid drugs.
Thrush is normally treatable if you are in good health. If left untreated, patches of these lesions can affect your ability to eat and swallow. When thrush continues to reoccur, even after treatment, it can be a symptom of an undiagnosed disease like diabetes or AIDS and should be investigated by your family doctor.
2. Oral Cancer
Most oral cancers begin as thin, flat cells known as squamous cells. They can appear as red or white patches, or a combination of both, lining the throat, tongue, lips and other areas of the mouth. It can feel like a lump or an irritation or even cause numbness in the tongue. Other symptoms include difficulty chewing or swallowing, or feeling like something is stuck in your throat.
Oral cancer becomes increasingly more common as people get older, usually after the age of 40. Risk factors include tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, and exposure to sunlight. Part of your routine dental checkup includes a screening for oral cancer. Depending on the results, your dentist may refer you to your primary doctor or another specialist.
3. Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
Mouth blisters, fever, sore throat and loss of appetite are all signs of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). The disease originates from a virus and is common in children, but can quickly spread to adults through contact with saliva or blister fluid. Lesions are more common in the mouth but they can also develop on your hands and feet.
Your dentist can be the first to spot HFMD, as oral lesions are the first clinical signs that it exists. It can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Red, sore, and bleeding gums are signs of gingivitis (the first stage of gum disease), but did you know they also can be a symptom of diabetes? If sore gums are accompanied by chronic bad breath and oral fungal infections, it may signal that something else is going on.
The high blood glucose levels that accompany diabetes allow germs to build up, and can eventually lead to tooth loss. In this case, more than one disease could be at work. When gingivitis is left untreated, it leads to periodontitis, a gum infection that creates deep pockets of germs and pus between the teeth. Treatment depends on how much to the teeth, gums, or jawbone has already sustained. Your dentist will discuss both non-surgical and surgical treatment options. You may also need blood work and medication from your family’s physician.
Your mouth can speak volumes about you and your health. Visiting your dentist on a regular basis for preventative dental care will ensure that your mouth is being well taken care of. Contact Arkansas Family Dental if you have questions about the oral warning signs of possible disease and the professional staff can address any symptoms or concerns you may have about your oral health.