Guest Blog: Thyroid and Its Impacts on Dental Health

Sunday 22 December 2019

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland in the front of your neck along the windpipe. The hormones it secretes influence your metabolism, growth, development, and even body temperature.

According to the Mayo Clinic, knowing how your thyroid works and what signs indicate something is amiss can help you get the care you need. If you have had thyroid problems, you may not have realised that your thyroid can also impact your dental care.

Side Effects of Thyroid on Oral Health

Those who have had trouble with their thyroid are at greater risk of several dental health issues.

● Burning mouth syndrome is a disorder that causes an uncomfortable burning sensation
● Desgeusia is marked by a change in the way things taste
● Xerostomia or Sjorgen’s Syndrome cause dry mouth, which accelerates tooth decay

Specific dental problems associated with an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism include:

● Temporomandibular Disorders - this can include painful jaw spasms
● Temporomandibular joint causes discomfort in the joint controlling your jaw
● Accelerated tooth decay and cavities
● Macroglossia, or an enlarged/swollen tongue
● Enlarged salivary glands
● Greater risk of swollen or infected gums.

For those who suffer from an overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, there are a different set of dental issues:

● Rapid decay of your molars
● Temperature sensitive teeth
● Bone loss in the jaw
● Increased risk of cavities and gingivitis

Knowing what to look out for may help you curb or even avoid these adverse effects.

What to Do Before Any Dental Treatment

If you are experiencing unusual dental symptoms, book a screening with your doctor. Diagnosis and treatment of a thyroid condition can help to resolve your oral health issues.

Always make your dentist aware of any medical condition and the medications you are taking. This information should be included in your medical history to help with the diagnosis and treatment of dental problems.

If you are not currently seeing a dentist, use the phrase 'dentist near me' online to get a list of local dental practices near you as well as patient reviews.

Side Effects of Dental Health Product

As you receive treatment for your thyroid, be aware that many dental care products can harm your thyroid function. Here is a list of products you may want to avoid:

Bisphenol A (BPA) - Most composite material used to fill dental cavities contains a derivative of this chemical. An endocrine disruptor, BPA can have adverse effects on your thyroid’s functionality. Ask your dentist if the composite material includes BPA and request BPA-free composites.

Triclosan - This is a chemical found in many oral health products, including toothpaste, mouthwashes, and oral rinses. While it is beneficial for fighting plaque, it is also an endocrine disruptor. Look at the label and consider avoiding products that contain this chemical. Your dentist may use products containing triclosan during routine visits, so ask for alternatives.

Fluoride - While dental health organizations encourage fluoride products to help reduce the risk of cavities, those who oppose fluoride point to the harmful effects of the chemical. Research has shown that exposure to higher levels of fluoride may be associated with an increased risk of hypothyroidism. To reduce your exposure to fluoride, look for fluoride-free toothpaste and mouth rinses. Also, ask your dentist if you can skip fluoride treatments during your visit.

How an X-ray Is Hazardous to the Thyroid

As the thyroid gland is sensitive to radiation, getting X-rays may increase the risk of thyroid cancer. Studies have shown that risks of thyroid cancer increase with multiple dental X-rays. However, they are not considered risky when performed only occasionally.

If you want to limit the number of dental X-rays you receive, you can refuse your dentist’s request for routine X-rays. Otherwise, you can agree to an X-ray only if you have a specific issue or if your dentist believes a situation requires it.

The New York Times suggested that those concerned about radiation may search for a dentist who uses digital X-rays, which deliver much less radiation. If that is unavailable, always insist on wearing a thyroid collar when receiving a dental X-ray. A lead thyroid collar is placed around your neck and protects your thyroid from X-ray radiation.

If a thyroid shield is unavailable, inexpensive collars are readily available online for purchase so that you can use one during appointments with the dentist. For those working in the dental profession, take adequate measures to protect yourself and routinely wear a thyroid collar when administering any dental X-rays.

It's Important to Discuss Your Condition with Your Dentist

Regular dental check-ups are recommended for those with thyroid disease. Talk to your dentist about your thyroid problem and discuss any medications associated with your thyroid disease. Secondary conditions related to your thyroid disease may also require medications that affect the way you respond to anaesthesia or how your blood clots. Before performing any procedures, your dentist must have a comprehensive understanding of your condition and treatment.

Disclaimer: This article is contributed by a Guest Blogger. Ping of Health does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this article. Ping of Health disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.