Thyroid disease is considered an autoimmune disorder and is more common in women, although men are sometimes affected as well. It is often diagnosed after childbirth and during the menopausal years. While thyroid disease can cause a myriad of symptoms, such as slow heart rate, sweating, constipation, diarrhea, both weight loss and weight gain, shaking, sleepiness, and goiter, it can also have an effect on your oral health. Here are some ways thyroid disease can affect your teeth and gums.

Low Thyroid Function

Low thyroid function, or hypothyroidism, causes a slower metabolic rate and because of this, you may experience slow healing after dental procedures such as extractions and tooth cleanings.

Your dentist may notice your oral cavity is exceedingly dry if you have hypothyroidism or another autoimmune disease because these disorders often cause salivary gland dysfunction. When salivary flow is poor, you are at a higher risk for developing cavities, periodontal disease, and bad breath.

If you have hypothyroidism, your dentist may prescribe a special mouthwash to help lubricate your mouth so that you can chew your food and swallow easier, while lowering your risk for gum disease, oral infections, and cavities. 

Overactive Thyroid

An overactive thyroid, also known as hyperthyroidism, can also cause problems with your oral health. Because hyperthyroidism causes a faster metabolic rate, you may develop plaque and calculus on your teeth quicker, raising your risk for cavities and gum disease.

Unlike hypothyroidism, which causes dry mouth, hyperthyroidism can actually lead to hypersalivation. The overproduction of saliva can make you so queasy that you may lose your appetite.

A higher metabolic rate may also cause burning mouth syndrome, a condition where you feel burning sensations on your tongue, gums, and lips. Also, because hyperthyroidism can cause tremors and shaking, you may notice that your tongue moves more when you stick it out. 

Once your endocrinologist treats your overactive thyroid, oral symptoms may improve.  You will need to see your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups because hyperthyroidism may accelerative the development of periodontitis and dental abscesses. With frequent checkups, your dentist can intervene early enough so that oral problems do not progress. 

If you have autoimmune disorders such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, work with both your physician and your dentist. When you see both of these healthcare providers on a regular basis, both your thyroid function and oral health will be better managed and less likely to lead to serious problems.