Diabetes affects your body’s ability to process sugar. All food you eat is turned to sugar and used for energy. In Type I diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough insulin, a hormone that carries sugar from your blood to the cells that need it for energy. In Type II diabetes, the body stops responding to insulin. Both cases result in high blood sugar levels, which can cause problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other parts of your body.
So, what is the relationship between oral health and diabetes? Let’s find out.
If diabetes is left untreated, it can take a toll on your mouth as well. Here’s how:
• You may have less saliva, causing your mouth to feel dry
• Because saliva protects your teeth, you’re also at a higher risk of cavities
• Gums may become inflamed and bleed often (gingivitis)
• You may have problems tasting food
• You may experience delayed wound healing
• You may be susceptible to infections inside of your mouth
• For children with diabetes, teeth may erupt at an age earlier than is typical
Why People with Diabetes Are More Prone to Gum Disease
All people have more tiny bacteria living in their mouth now than there are people on this planet. If they make their home in your gums, you can end up with periodontal disease. This chronic, inflammatory disease can destroy your gums, all the tissues holding your teeth and even your bones.
Periodontal disease is the most common dental disease affecting those living with diabetes. Especially with increasing age, poor blood sugar control increases the risk for gum problems. In fact, people with diabetes are at a higher risk for gum problems because of poor blood sugar control. As with all infections, serious gum disease may cause blood sugar to rise. This makes diabetes harder to control because you are more susceptible to infections and are less able to fight the bacteria invading the gums.
If I Have Diabetes, am I at Risk for Dental Problems?
If your blood glucose levels are poorly controlled, you are more likely to develop serious gum disease and lose more teeth than non-diabetics. Like all infections, serious gum disease may be a factor in causing blood sugar to rise and may make diabetes harder to control.
Other oral problems associated to diabetes include: thrush, an infection caused by fungus that grows in the mouth, and dry mouth which can cause soreness, ulcers, infections and cavities.
How Can I Help Prevent Dental Problems Associated with Diabetes?
First and foremost, control your blood glucose level. Then, take good care of your teeth and gums, along with regular checkups every six months. To control thrush, a fungal infection, maintain good diabetic control, avoid smoking and, if you wear them, remove and clean dentures daily. Good blood glucose control can also help prevent or relieve dry mouth caused by diabetes.
How Your Dentist Can Help Your Diabetes
Regular dental visits are very important. Research suggests that treating gum disease can help improve blood sugar control in patients living with diabetes, decreasing the progression of the disease. Practicing good oral hygiene and having professional deep cleanings done by your dentist can help to lower blood sugar and control your diabetes.
If you’re having trouble finding a dental physician or have more questions about the relationship between oral health and diabetes, quality dental advice and care can be offered by Dr. David S. Kao’s office to provide you with a gorgeous and healthy smile. Dr. Kao focuses his treatment on you as an individual, and not just on the dental problem. Dr. Kao takes into account each patients’ individual needs and concerns. Treatments are specifically tailored to provide lasting health benefits.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and to boost both your smile and your confidence.