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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Neil Shaw & Sean McPolin

Dentist warns of six changes in your mouth that could be a sign of serious illness

Medical experts have revealed six red flags that people should look out for, which may be a sign of serious illness.

Dentists have told people to keep an eye on certain symptoms which may be indicators for a heart attack or osteoporosis.

Examples include jaw ache and loose teeth, which could be cause for concern.

Dr Rizwan Mahmood, from Ruh Dental, explained how many diseases can spur changes and tell-tale signs in a person's mouth.

He said: “This is why people should visit their dentist at least twice a year for check-ups and cleaning.

"Analysing oral health regularly, along with brushing and flossing at home, can help keep your physical health in good order too.

“It’s also wise to be aware of any changes in the mouth, as well as pain. If you notice anything untoward, see your dentist or medical practitioner straight away."

Here are the six symptoms that Dr Mahmood says people should watch out for.

The dentist explained multiple symptoms may actually be indicators of a serious illness (file photo) (Getty Images)

Pain and discomfort in the jaw

"Occasionally, pain or discomfort in the jaw could be indicative of a heart attack," he said

"Although the chances are rare, it’s important to recognise these symptoms which could save someone’s life.

"Your jaw could hurt with cardiac arrest because the nerves that detect pain coming from the heart, travel to the same general area in your spinal cord as they share the same nerve pathway. These signals then work their way up to the brain. So, in essence your jaw is signalling pain on behalf of your heart."

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a condition, which isn't usually serious, that affects the movement of the jaw.

Signs include: pain around your jaw, ear and temple; clicking, popping or grinding noises when you move your jaw; a headache around your temples; difficulty opening your mouth fully and your jaw locking when you open your mouth.

Loose and wobbly teeth

Dr Mahmood explains the reason behind your teeth becoming loose or falling out may be down to gum disease.

It could also be the onset of osteoporosis, which is a disease that weakens the body's bones and bone density.

“There have been studies showing links between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw which the teeth anchor into," he said.

"This should be investigated further if you’re experiencing random tooth loss."

Changes on the surface of teeth

Changes in tooth enamel and the surface of teeth could be signs of an eating disorder.

That's according to Dr Mahmood who says teeth which "appear eroded and translucent" can be a tell-tale for the likes of bulimia or acid reflux.

He added: “Stomach acid is abrasive and can steadily wear away at tooth enamel.

"Excessive vomiting can also prompt dry mouth, dry and cracked lips, loss of tooth enamel, swollen salivary glands and sensitive teeth.

Tooth decay can be caused by the over-consumption sugary food and drink and not cleaning your teeth and gums.

If you have a hole in your tooth you may get toothache, a sharp pain when you're eating or drinking hot cold or sweet things, and white, brown of black spots on your tooth.

Dr Rizwan Mahmood explained how many diseases can spur changes in a person's mouth (file photo) (Getty Images/Westend61)

Smelly breath

This can also be known as halitosis and is the result of a dry mouth or can be due to eating certain foods and drinks.

But Dr Mahmood says it can be a sign of gum disease or gingivitis.

“Bad breath can also be symptomatic for something underlying, something more serious," he explained.

"It could be a pointer to a sinus infection, diabetes, a chronic lung infection, liver or kidney disease."

The NHS recommends the best way to avoid bad breath is to keep your teeth, tongue and mouth clean by brushing them gently twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste

Sore and bleeding gums

Dr Mahmood warns bleeding or aching gums might be an indicator of something worse, like gum disease.

He said: “Gum disease can be prevalent in people with underlying conditions such as diabetes, an ailment which can weaken the immune system – putting you in danger of infection.

“If you have diabetes, you’re more likely to suffer with a gum disease known as periodontal disease. This is inflammation in the gums and the bones around your teeth. Periodontal disease also causes bad breath (halitosis) and even loss of teeth.

Dr Mahmood says wobbly teeth can be a sign of gum disease (file photo) (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“Diabetes can cause a dry mouth because of a lack of saliva which in turn can cause ulceration and tooth decay. Furthermore, you are also prone to developing oral thrush as it can impact the way your body fights off infections.

“This can put your gums at risk of inflammation because of the bacteria living in plaque. Other signs of diabetes include oral fungal infections, dry mouth, and fruity smelling breath,” he added.

“Fruity-smelling breath can be a sign of diabetic ketoacidosis which is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening condition in which your blood sugar is so high it starts turning acidic. But as dentists we are constantly working around the mouth and can pick up on this distinctive oral scent.”

Sores and lumps in the mouth

Dr Mahmood has warned people to keep an eye out for canker sores, which can be the result of fungal infections.

Symptoms to look out for include lumps and sores in your mouth and they should always be checked out by a professional

He added: "Oral cancer often starts as a small white or red spot or sore in the mouth and it is more likely to affect smokers or alcohol drinkers. Signs of oral cancer include sores that don’t heal easily, hard spots, rough areas, discoloured tissues, numbness and changes in the way teeth fit together.

“Lumps or irregular tissue in the mouth or inner cheek, head or neck, should all be checked out too. Please note that oral cancer isn’t something you should try and diagnose at home, see your dentist who will refer you to a specialist if needed."

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