Chronic Diseases That Can Cause Oral Symptoms

Chronic illnesses can cause high blood pressure, fatigue, muscle pain, weakness, and breathing problems. In addition, certain chronic illnesses can also cause oral signs and symptoms. While oral manifestations of chronic diseases often show up in the late stages, they can sometimes be the first symptoms people notice. Here are some chronic disease symptoms that your family dentist may notice during your routine examination. 


Small purple dots known as petechiae can show up on your gums, under your tongue, and even on the insides of your cheeks. They can be caused by oral injuries and certain medications such as prescription anticoagulant drugs and aspirin, however, they may also alert your family dentist to the presence of a chronic illness. For example, the presence of oral petechiae may mean that you have a chronic blood disease such as anemia, liver disease, or platelet disorder.

Your family dentist may be even more suspicious of a chronic illness if your petechiae are accompanied by heavy bleeding during your dental examination. While minor bleeding during a dental examination or teeth cleaning is not alarming, profuse bleeding or bleeding that is difficult to control may prompt your dentist to recommend that you visit your primary care physician for further evaluation.

White Patches

If you have white patches on your tongue or throat, your family dentist may ask you if you have a history of diabetes. White patches inside the mouth are often caused by a yeast infection known as candidiasis. While yeast infections can be related to a number of different causes, those with diabetes, especially long-standing diabetes or uncontrolled diabetes, may be at a heightened risk for developing oral candidiasis infections.

If you have white patches on your tongue that you can scrape off, especially if they bleed or become irritated when touched, see your dentist. Antifungal rinses can help treat oral candidiasis infections. If, however, they are caused by diabetes, you will need to maintain tight control of blood glucose levels to help lower your risk for further oral yeast infections. Other causes of oral yeast infections and white patches include the use of antibiotics and suppressed immunity. 

If you develop any of the above oral signs and symptoms, make an appointment with your family dentist. If they determine that your symptoms may be related to a chronic or acute illness, they will ask you to visit your primary care doctor so that a treatment plan can be recommended.