When was the last time you did more than a quick smile check in the mirror after brushing your teeth? In the WebMD online discussion, Your Dental Health Concerns, guest expert Eric Linden, DMD says that you can learn a lot about your oral health by taking a more attentive look in the mirror.
Some of the things Linden suggests you look for -- and what they may mean -- include:
- White spots on the tongue, lips, cheek, or gums: possible sign of abnormal tissue from a virus, bacteria, or other source -- should be evaluated promptly
- Swollen lips: possible infection, allergy, or other systemic problem
- Bleeding, receding, or swollen gums: possible gum disease or illness
- Yellow teeth: could be caused by dental decay, staining, smoking, or medication
- Dry mouth: possible side effect of medication, dehydration, or disease
A woman responded that her adult daughter has been unsuccessful at treating cracks at the sides of her mouth and asked Linden what might be the cause. He said it could be excess saliva at the corners of the mouth. Or the cracks could be the result of a fungal, viral, or bacterial infection that should be diagnosed for proper treatment.
The bottom line: What we see in the mirror can give us important clues about our oral health, Linden says. But what you see may not be telling the whole story. So it’s always important to see a dentist or periodontist if you find anything suspicious in a dental self-exam.
Are you seeing anything in your mouth that concerns you?