Diabetes is a serious disease that can affect your dental health as well as numerous aspects of your physical health. When your body cannot process sugar properly, the sugars in the blood get out of control. As far as dental health is concerned, this can cause an imbalance in your saliva, which can promote cavities, gum disease, and infection. Let’s learn more about the connection between diabetes and dental health.
Diabetes and Your Mouth
Diabetics are prone to infection and slower healing of injuries, so caring for your teeth and gums is particularly important if you are diabetic. You may have other issues that arise due to diabetes, so preventing dental problems with regular oral hygiene can provide greater peace of mind about that aspect of your health.
Individuals with diabetes may experience include dry mouth and fungal infections, such as thrush. Dry mouth, or xerostomia, sometimes occurs in diabetics. The lack of saliva promotes gum disease, tooth decay, and fungal infections. Saliva is an important factor in your dental health. Saliva neutralizes acids produced by bacteria, and those bacteria attack teeth, cause plaque, and promote tooth decay. Burning Mouth Syndrome can also accompany dry mouth, making it feel like you drank scalding liquid.
Treatments for dry mouth can help prevent issues with your teeth and gums. Moisturizing rinses and artificial saliva can be prescribed and used to lubricate your mouth. Talk to your dentist if your mouth seems unusually dry.
When blood sugar remains high, oral thrush and other fungal infections in the mouth can be more common. A yeast called Candida albicans causes thrush, which shows up as painful white or red patches in the lining of the mouth. If the signs of thrush appear, you will need antifungal medication to clear up the fungal infection in your mouth.
Diabetes, Gum Disease and Tooth Decay
With uncontrolled diabetes, the high blood sugar levels result in higher levels of sugars, starches, and acids that attack your teeth. Cavities form more easily in this bacteria-friendly environment, and infections can be difficult to control.
Plaque can develop quickly, too, and it is the precursor to tartar, which irritates gums. Left unchecked, tartar leads to gingivitis. Gingivitis leads to periodontitis—advanced gum disease. Periodontitis attacks the gums and jawbone, which can lead to tooth loss. This vicious cycle can be broken with regular, gentle brushing and flossing and regular dental cleanings.
Dentures and Diabetes
It is important to note that diabetics who have dentures should take extra care to remove dentures every night and clean them thoroughly. This helps prevent infections and oral thrush. Plus, nightly cleaning is a best practice for anyone with dentures of any kind!
Protect Your Dental Health
We know that people with diabetes have a lot to deal with just to maintain a healthy blood sugar level. We strongly encourage you to take control of your health—both your physical health and dental health—to live well with the disease. By preventing plaque, tartar, and cavities, you can breathe easier when you visit the dentist—plus, you are protecting yourself from the possible pitfalls of diabetes and oral health.
What can you do to manage your dental health when you have diabetes? Here’s the short list:
- Manage your blood sugar levels
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks
- Get regular dental checkups and cleanings
- Brush and floss daily to care for teeth and gums
- Remove and clean dentures daily
At Uptown Dental, we welcome you to discuss your overall health as it relates to your dental health. Be sure to let us know of any major diagnoses, as other health conditions may affect your dental health and dental care.