Simple Steps To Better Dental Health
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Featuring consumer information from Columbia School of Dental & Oral Surgery
Oral Health Made Simple: Your Prescription For Knowledge
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space placeholder. Thyroid Disease.
space placeholder. Pituitary Tumors.
space placeholder. Paget's Disease of Bone.
space placeholder. Cushing's Syndrome.
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space placeholder. Thyroid Disease
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Oral Effects
Radioactive iodine is used to assess and treat various forms of thyroid disease. This chemical can damage the salivary glands and cause them to swell. It also can cause changes in saliva production. This can lead to dry mouth (xerostomia).

Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid gland. In children with this condition, the upper and lower teeth may not come together correctly. Their teeth may come into the mouth later than normal. They also may have a protruding tongue and thick lips. However, many children with hypothyroidism have none of these effects. It depends on the degree of the disease, the child's age when diagnosed and how long he or she had the disease before treatment began.

Adults with hypothyroidism may have:

  • An enlarged tongue
  • A hoarse voice
  • A bad taste in the mouth (dysgeusia)
  • Poor gum health
  • Slow wound healing

At the Dentist
Your dentist may need to talk to your physician before treating you. Make sure your dentist knows about your condition. Make sure to always tell your dentist about all the medicines you take. This should include over-the-counter vitamins and herbal supplements.

People with uncontrolled hypothyroidism may be sensitive to some drugs used in dental treatment. Examples include sedatives and opioid pain relievers. If your dentist prescribes these drugs, you should discuss dosages first.

Hyperthyroidism is another type of thyroid disease. It means having an overactive thyroid gland. People with poorly controlled hyperthyroidism can have heart problems if they are given epinephrine. This is an ingredient in many local anesthetics (dental injections).

If you have poorly controlled hyperthyroidism or uncontrolled hypothyroidism, your dentist will need to discuss your care with your physician.

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space placeholder. Pituitary Tumors
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Oral Effects
People with tumors of the pituitary gland may produce an excess of growth hormone. This can lead to gradual changes in parts of the face that contain cartilage, including the nose, ears and jaw. If normal growth has stopped, the lower jaw may still grow. As a result, it may look out of proportion to other parts of the face. The tongue also may get larger. These changes may affect denture fit.

When this disease is undiagnosed, people may visit an orthodontist, thinking that braces can help with the tooth or jaw growth problems. Excess growth hormone can lead to heart disease (including high blood pressure) and diabetes.

At the Dentist
Dentists can help in the diagnosis of pituitary problems. They may notice changes in your jaw, tongue, face and other health signs. In this case, the dentist will suggest further evaluation by your physician. After your physician makes a diagnosis, your dentist can plan proper dental procedures or other visits for you.

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space placeholder. Paget's Disease of Bone
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Oral Effects
In Paget's disease of bone, the body breaks down bone and builds it up again at a faster rate than normal. It is most often diagnosed in people age 40 or older and affects men more than women. Some research suggests it may be caused by a virus. This disease can result in broken or deformed bones. In about half of people with this disease the jawbones are affected, most often the upper jaw (maxilla). The jaw bones become enlarged, and spaces develop between the teeth. A common first sign of Paget's disease is pain or an increase in the size of the head.

At the Dentist
A dentist should monitor people with Paget's disease closely if their jaw bones are affected. That's because cancerous bone changes can occur over time.

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space placeholder. Cushing's Syndrome
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Oral Effects
Cushing's syndrome is a rare disease. It occurs in about 13 out of every 1 million people. It can result from taking too much cortisol or other steroid hormones. It also can occur when your body produces too much cortisol. In this case, it is called Cushing's disease.

People who take certain steroid hormones for a long time are more likely to develop fungal infections in the mouth. This occurs because the drug suppresses the immune system. They may have high blood pressure and have difficulty managing blood sugar levels.

Excessive steroid hormones in the body can result in color changes of the skin and mouth. The cells that produce brown pigment may produce more. As a result, the skin may appear tanned, and the gums or cheeks may develop brown patches.

At the Dentist
People with Cushing's syndrome may bruise easily and may bleed more than normal during dental procedures. Wound healing can be delayed by multiple factors. These may include suppression of the immune system and poor clotting of the blood.

People with Cushing's syndrome or Cushing's disease may be at higher risk of infection after complex dental procedures. They also may be at risk of cardiovascular collapse, in which the heart stops pumping blood.

Make sure to always tell your dentist about all the medicines you take. This should include over-the-counter vitamins and herbal supplements.

Depending on what procedure you are having, your dentist may monitor your blood pressure. You also may need to take more steroids than usual before certain dental procedures.

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