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The Thyroid and Dental Health Connection

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Along with the pituitary, adrenal, hypothalamus, pituitary, parathyroids, pineal, and the reproductive glands, which include the ovaries and testes, the thyroid gland is part of our body’s endocrine system that produces the hormones we need to live. The thyroid creates two main hormones, namely, thyroxin, also called T4, and Lio-Thyronine, also called T3, two hormones critical to energy production. Shaped like a butterfly, it sits in the base of the neck and can be felt, if it is enlarged or contains big-enough nodules.

If the thyroid malfunctions, either in that it becomes over-or underactive, a plethora of health problems can ensue.  The thyroid gland is so important because it affects so many systems in our bodies: Problems with dry skin, intolerance to cold, lower circulation, diminished digestion leading to constipation, dry or brittle hair and nails, even speech, hearts, insomnia, greater risk of infections, muscle and joint pains, increased allergies and rashes, lung problems, issues with the reproductive system (affecting both sex drive as well as fertility in both genders), trouble losing weight or weight gain. In addition, it can contribute to mental health issues, such as depression and SAD (seasonal affective disorder), anxiety and more. An underfunctioning thyroid can also contribute to increased dental decay and gum disease, as discussed below.

 

What does the thyroid need for optimal health?

A wide variety of nutrients and minerals are needed by the thyroid. They specifically include

Minerals (zinc, selenium, magnesium, iodine)

Vitamins A, B and D

Essential fatty acids, e.g. Omega-3 fats

 

How do thyroid issues occur?

There are many contributors for thyroid malfunction, such as

·         a nutrient-deficient diet, with lots of sugars and processed foods

·         Consumption of inappropriately prepared grains (i.e. store-bought flours, and grains which are rancid and often contain fluoride and bromide, both toxic to the thyroid)

·         Over-consumption of goitrogenic vegetables that interfere with thyroid function, such as too many root vegetables, cabbage, broccoli, collards, mustard greens and kale, soybeans (unless fermented in dishes like miso), peanuts and pine-nuts

·         frequent or chronic infections

·         environmental toxins (such as mercury, copper toxicity) that overload the body

·         unrelieved stress and lack of rest

·         strong emotions that are suppressed

·         food allergies, celiac disease, candida

Should your doctor suggest your thyroid to be tested, the key is to make sure the appropriate tests are performed, and properly analyzed. The tragedy is that many hypothyroid issues actually get overlooked, simply because most doctors only test for TSH (or thyroid stimulating hormone, produced by the pituitary gland, telling the thyroid to manufacture more thyroid hormones), rather than also including both free T3 and free T4 in their testing so be sure to ask your doctor for these tests. It has been observed that many people have TSH levels that look normal, however, when free T3 and free T4 are checked, deeper thyroid issues are uncovered, to the detriment of many patients that go undiagnosed.

Hypothyroidism can affect dental health at any age, i.e. not just adults but even small, growing children.

 

Potential effects on children

If the thyroid doesn’t function optimally, it is possible that the jaw or teeth in general may not develop as they do in healthy children, contribute to crowded teeth, or even gaps between certain teeth. Hypothyroidism may also lead to irritated or enlarged gums, gums projecting between teeth, multiple cavities, and general delayed dental development.

If you notice any of these issues in your child, you may want to consider testing for hypothyroidism as they could be the first signs if your child is otherwise healthy. Of course, following the Cure Tooth Decay protocol described in the book of the same name will be a great help and offer you the greatest potential to optimize your child’s health, thyroid, dental and general.

 

Potential effects on adults

The greater risk for infection (or lessened ability to fight it), impaired ability to heal tissues, and poor circulation, and other factors contribute to decreased dental health in hypothyroid adults1. This has been reported as far back as 1888. In the report, tooth decay, teeth suddenly breaking off, swollen, spongy, bleeding and even receding gums have been tied to thyroid issues in the majority of patients suffering from hypothyroidism2.

Further, because hypothyroidism can contribute to jaw muscle spasms, muscle tension and pain, it henceforth can also play a role in developing TMJ, or Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction.  A team of doctors comprised of a dentist (Dr Harold Gelb), endocrinologist (Dr Sonkin) and muscle pain specialist (Dr Kraus) has found that the issue of teeth clenching and TMJ can be resolved upon treating the underfunctioning thyroid.

 

Overcoming thyroid issues

The best insurance against tooth decay problems possibly caused by thyroid issues is the dietary protocol and lifestyle in sync with nature as described in Cure Tooth Decay. Luckily, following this protocol will not only improve your dental health, but also your thyroid health since they go hand in hand. If you are unable to have the relief you hope for, consider having your thyroid tested properly – it is possible your body may need some natural thyroid hormone replacement.

 

Sources:

1 Starr, Mark; Hypothyroidism Type 2

2 Report, Committee of the Clinical Society of London to Investigate the Subject of Myxedema. Transactions Clinical Society London, 1888, Vol 21

 

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