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The Most Common Illnesses That Causes Tooth Decay

Aug 20

Like no other part of your body, your teeth do not function independently. Tooth decay can be caused by a variety of factors other than poor oral hygiene. Tooth decay is frequently a symptom or warning sign of something much more severe and potentially more dangerous going on in the body. There are, in fact, prevalent illnesses that lead to tooth decay.


We examine more than just the physical appearance of your teeth when you visit our Vancouver, WA, dentist for an exam. If you've ever been curious about why we ask so many questions about your lifestyle and medical history, it's because we want to understand the big picture as well as what your mouth and oral health are telling us.


The mouth is an opening into the rest of the body and will frequently display warning signs that something more serious is going on. Here are some of the most common diseases that cause tooth decay. If you have any of these conditions, talk to your dentist about it at your next appointment.



Diabetes has the most direct cause-and-effect correlation with tooth decay. Whether you have type I or type II diabetes, your blood sugar levels are elevated due to low insulin levels. This has an impact on many parts of the body, including the mouth.


A dry mouth, caused by a lack of saliva, is one of the most common diabetes symptoms. Saliva, in addition to making your mouth feel more comfortable, protects your teeth from the bacteria that cause tooth decay. If you lack sufficient saliva, your teeth are more susceptible and you're more likely to develop cavities.


As tooth decay progresses, the likelihood of gum disease increases. Gum disease develops as bacteria accumulate in your mouth. In fact, approximately one-quarter of all diabetics develop gum disease.


To make matters worse, gum disease causes a rise in blood sugar levels which can worsen the intensity of the diabetes. It's a vicious cycle that needs to be broken as soon as symptoms appear.


Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases are a group of diseases in which the body attacks itself. This can range from major organ systems such as the kidneys to smaller systems such as the salivary glands. Many of these diseases have some effect on the mouth, but Sjögren's syndrome is the most directly related to oral health.


Sjögren's syndrome reduces the amount of saliva produced by the mouth, which has the same effects as diabetes. In severe cases, patients may not produce any saliva at all.


People with Sjögren's syndrome may need to visit the dentist more than twice a year to keep track of tooth decay caused by decreased saliva production. Over-the-counter lozenges, mouthwashes, and other products can also help increase saliva production and manage symptoms on a daily basis.


Bulimia and Anorexia

Anorexia and bulimia are both serious eating disorders. They occur when men or women have a strong fear of becoming overweight and, as a result, eat less or regurgitate food.


Both conditions have teeth implications because the body is not getting the minerals, vitamins, proteins, and other nutrients it requires to maintain good oral health and prevent tooth decay. When anorexics do eat, they tend to eat sugary, salty, unhealthy foods that are bad for their teeth.


Furthermore, a bulimic person may binge eat and then vomit. When this happens, the acids that break down your food eat away at your tooth enamel, eventually leading to decay. Bulimia also causes bad breath, swollen glands, and teeth that appear worn down.


Let Us Help

These are just a some of the more prevalent dental diseases. Because the links between your mouth and the other parts of your body are not always obvious, it is critical to share your medical history with your Vancouver, WA, dentist.


Here at Cascade Dental, we not only want to help you achieve and maintain optimum oral health, but we also want to be a partner in your overall health and wellbeing. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call us today.