Did you know that hypothyroidism can affect your teeth? While most people associate hypothyroidism with the common symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, and depression, it also often causes dry mouth, slow wound healing, and a poor immune response—these complications of hypothyroidism have a direct effect on your dental health. Hypothyroidism can increase your risk of periodontal disease and make you more likely to develop cavities. If you have hypothyroidism, here's what you need to know about how it affects your dental health.

How Does Hypothyroidism Affect Dental Health?

When hypothyroidism isn't well-controlled, it decreases the rate at which your wounds heal and makes them more likely to become infected. This affects your dental health by making you more susceptible to periodontal disease—any cuts or sores on your gums will be slow to heal, and they provide an avenue for bacteria to cause an infection in your gums. Since hypothyroidism often slows immune response, your immune system will experience greater difficulty fighting off this infection compared to the immune system of someone who does not have hypothyroidism.

Additionally, hypothyroidism often causes dry mouth. Dry mouth is more than a mere annoyance—it can cause major dental problems. Saliva contains antibodies that help destroy plaque-causing bacteria in your mouth. When your mouth is dry and you don't have enough saliva, you're at a greater risk of developing cavities. Additionally, saliva acts as a transport medium for minerals that help rebuild the enamel on your teeth, which means that a lack of saliva can lead to weakened enamel. Both of these complications combined mean you're much more likely to develop cavities.

How Can People With Hypothyroidism Protect Their Dental Health?

There are a few things that you can do in order to prevent hypothyroidism from causing severe dental problems.

Be watchful of the early signs of periodontal disease. Persistent bad breath, inflamed gums, receding gums, and gums that bleed easily are all signs of periodontal disease. If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist—antibiotic treatment should be started as soon as possible in order to ward off the infection.

Because of your increased risk of infection in your gums, it's important that you always use a soft-bristled toothbrush to brush your teeth. Use very gentle pressure while brushing in order to avoid scratching your gums, as any open wounds can allow bacteria to invade your gums and cause periodontal disease.

If you suffer from dry mouth, ask your dentist for products that help combat it. Medicated toothpaste and mouthwash can increase the activity of your salivary glands, causing them to produce more saliva. The increased saliva production helps to reduce the symptoms of dry mouth and protects your teeth.

Finally, make sure you schedule regular examinations with your dentist. When you have a heightened risk of cavities and periodontal disease, it's important for the dentist to keep a close eye on your oral health—you'll need to catch cavities as quickly as possible so that they can be filled and prevented from further developing.

While hypothyroidism does increase your risk of developing cavities and periodontal disease, you can minimize the risk of developing serious dental problems by maintaining excellent oral hygiene and working closely with your dentist to monitor for cavities and signs of periodontal disease.