Everyone has their own little quirks about their smile, but your mouth could reveal a much bigger story about your overall physical and mental health. As World Oral Health Day is coming up (20 March), we spoke to Dr David Dunn, Philips Sonicare ambassador, who shared his knowledge on all things oral health.

Ground-down teeth
Flat, worn teeth are often signs of teeth-grinding which is largely a sign of increased stress. While grinding teeth can be seen as a harmless habit, it’s important to address this as it may lead to discomfort in the muscles and jaws of the face (called TMD) later down the track. If you’re a grinder, start by simply evaluating your daily life to see what things you may be able to address to de-stress. Otherwise, it’s important you speak to your dentist, as you may be able to explore getting a custom-made mouth guard to prevent long-term damage, or indeed the use of muscle relaxants to reduce the power of clenching and grinding.

Bad breath
Bad breath can often be linked to dry mouth and gum disease, but it can also simply reflect poor diet choices or not cleaning your teeth and mouth well. On top of reviewing your diet and medications you may be taking, take a look at your oral health routine to ensure you’re brushing, flossing and cleaning your tongue morning and night, as well as drinking lots of water throughout the day. If bad breath persists, visit your local GP as it could be an indication of other health issues.

Discoloured teeth
With age, your teeth are likely to discolour through stains on the surface or by changes in the tooth material, but early discolouration through your 20s, 30s and 40s can also be a sign of poor diet choices. To prevent early damage, avoid or limit certain stain-causing food and drinks like coffee, tea, red wine, sports drinks and tomato sauce. If you do indulge (hey, we’re all human), a good habit is to rinse your mouth with water straight afterwards. If your lifestyle choices don’t seem to be the culprit and you’ve noticed a recent change in the colour of your teeth, pencil in a visit your dentist to explore this further.

Swollen gums
If you find your gums are constantly swollen, red and tender, you may already have or be developing gum disease or periodontal disease. This can often be the sign of a poor oral health routine so to prevent these symptoms, invest in a quality electric toothbrush like from the Sonicare range which is focused on reducing the early signs of gum disease. If you already have sore or bleeding gums, take a trip to your dentist to get this in check – it has been associated with diabetes and heart disease.

Mouth Ulcers
In most cases, mouth ulcers resolve by themselves in a few days and are normally caused by either stress or tissue injury (like when you accidentally bite your cheek!). Try to reduce your stress levels by pinpointing the cause, steer clear of acidic and spicy foods, and brush with a soft-bristled tooth brush. If you do find yourself waking up with recurring ulcers, some studies have shown a link with gluten intolerance or a mineral deficiency such as zinc. Visit your local dentist or GP to get to the bottom of it.

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