If you have hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland, then you should tell your orthodontist about it. Hyperthyroidism can not only cause a rise in your metabolic rate, but it can also lead to complications with braces, retainers, and dentures. Here are some potential complications that may arise if you have an overactive thyroid gland or if you take medications to manage your hyperthyroidism:
The symptoms of hyperthyroidism can mimic those of anxiety disorders or cardiovascular disease. These symptoms may include a fast heart rate, rapid breathing, profuse and frequent sweating, and shaking. When your thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, your endocrinologist may prescribe medications to slow down your metabolic rate.
Beta blockers, which are typically used in the management of high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias, are often prescribed to slow your metabolism. These medications will help manage your symptoms of hyperthyroidism. However, they can cause significant side effects, such as dry mucus membranes, including those in your mouth.
Beta blockers can also impair your salivary flow, which can raise your risk for gum disease. Saliva helps wash away infection-causing germs inside your mouth, and if your salivary flow is impaired because of the medications you take or autoimmune disorders, bacteria may accumulate inside your mouth and under your gum line.
This can cause a serious type of gum disease known as periodontitis, and if not treated early on, your orthodontist may need to remove your braces until your gums and underlying bones have healed.
In severe cases of periodontitis, the bones that support your teeth can deteriorate and may eventually lead to tooth loss. If your orthodontist determines that you have a severe case of periodontitis, you may be referred to a periodontist, a dentist whose practice is limited to the diagnosis and treatment of gum disease.
Because an overactive thyroid gland speeds up your metabolism, you may develop chronic diarrhea and weight loss. In some cases, significant weight loss can cause dental shifting and can cause spaces to develop in between your teeth.
If you have lost weight because of your hyperthyroidism, make an appointment with your orthodontist. He or she may take x-rays of your mouth to determine if your teeth have shifted, and if there is a noticeable shift, your braces may need to be tightened or otherwise readjusted.
Hyperthyroid-related weight loss may also cause nutritional deficiencies, which can significantly affect your gums. For example, if you have a severe vitamin C deficiency, you may develop scurvy. This disorder can cause weakness, fatigue, bruising, and abnormal growth patterns on the hair of your legs, known as corkscrew hairs. It can also cause hemorrhaging of your gums and gum infections. If your gums bleed profusely for no apparent reason, tell your endocrinologist.
Because of your overactive thyroid and subsequent weight loss, you may have a vitamin C deficiency. You will need to have a blood test done to evaluate your vitamin C levels. If these levels are abnormally low, your doctor may recommend that you increase your intake of citrus fruit and green vegetables and take vitamin C supplements.
Recovery is usually rapid, and after your vitamin C levels have been restored, your gums will probably stop bleeding and return to normal. Because vitamin C deficiencies can cause gum hemorrhaging, many people who wear braces will be hesitant to brush and floss their teeth on a regular basis for fear of triggering a bleeding episode.
If you have hyperthyroidism or other autoimmune disorders, see both your physician and orthodontist on a regular basis. When your chronic medical conditions are closely monitored and well-managed, you are more likely to have a healthy mouth and an easier time with your braces.
For more information, contact an orthodontist at a clinic like Twin Cities Dental.