Research has shown that many diseases (such as diabetes, heart and kidney diseases, oral cancer, pancreatic cancer, leukemia, etc.) have oral manifestations, including swollen gums, gum disease, mouth ulcers, and dry mouth. Poor oral health can also lead to other health problems including digestion disorders (such as bloating, belching, gas, indigestion, abdominal pain, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal failure, etc.), oral and facial pain (due to dental and gum disease), weight loss, and frailty. Improper jaw alignment can lead to jaw pains and headaches. Also, if you suffer from chronic arthritis you can develop pain in the jaw, specifically in the temporomandibular (TM) joint that attaches the jaw to the skull. This sometimes manifests itself as a headache, and it can interfere with chewing food.
Make sure to brush and floss your teeth at least twice per day, eat a healthy balanced diet, avoid cigarettes (which may contribute to gum disease and oral cancer) and visit your dentist at least every six months so that she/he can keep an eye on your dental and oral health. Always share your up-to-date medical history and a list of your medications with your dentist, and your dental history with your primary care provider or geriatrician.
Mehrdad Ayati, MD, Board Certified in Geriatrics and Family Medicine