Diabetes and Dental Health

March 16, 2019

Diabetes and Dental Health

Answers to “Can diabetes affect my teeth?”

Did you know there may be a correlation between diabetes and dental health? When a person is diabetic, their body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t use its own insulin as it should to process glucose, or sugars, to produce energy. This results in excess sugars flowing into the blood stream, which can have adverse effects throughout the body—including the teeth—if not managed properly.

Can diabetes affect my teeth?

The answer is yes. The mouth is full of bacteria that loves to feed on sugars. Uncontrolled diabetes means excess sugars in your saliva. The bacteria feed on this surplus of sugars which then results in increased plaque or tartar (or hardened plaque) surrounding your teeth and gums. This plaque and tartar build-up may eventually lead to gingivitis or periodontal disease.

If you have uncontrolled or untreated diabetes, these are the signs to look for:

  • Dry mouth
  • Inflamed and bleeding gums
  • Impaired taste
  • Delayed healing of wounds in the mouth
  • Susceptibility to infections

Added risks

People with diabetes are at an increased risk for gum disease, such as gingivitis or periodontal disease. This is due to being more vulnerable to infections and an inability to fight against the bacteria that invades the gums.

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. This is when the bacteria in your mouth cause your gums to become sore or tender, turn red and even bleed. If not managed, this can lead to a more destructive gum disease known as periodontal disease.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease that can erode your gums, tissues or bone supporting the teeth due to excess bacteria. The bacteria and plaque eventually cause your gums to pull away from your teeth, causing pockets. In time, the pockets get deeper and deeper, allowing a larger space for bacteria and plaque to grow and multiply. This can lead to bone loss, where teeth start to become loose or even fall out.

Like any disease, periodontal disease may cause your blood-sugar levels to rise and ultimately make your diabetes harder to control or progress unless appropriately managed.

Managing diabetes and dental health

Oral health is an integral part of general health and overall well-being. It’s vital for diabetics to manage the onset of gum disease by:

  • Controlling blood sugar levels through proper diet and exercise
  • Avoiding smoking and chewing tobacco
  • Brushing twice a day and flossing
  • Cleaning dentures everyday (if you have them) and all pink tissues in your mouth
  • Visiting your dentist regularly for check ups
  • Being honest with your dentist and medical doctor about changes to your health

If you have any questions about how to better manage your diabetes and dental health, feel free to ask one of our trusted dentists at your next visit. If you are looking to schedule an appointment, call our office at 920-231-1955.

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