You may think that diabetes and oral health have nothing to do with each other, but this is unfortunately not the case. If fact, one of the most common side effects of diabetes is gum disease, and the two conditions can actually make the other more difficult to manage. With chronic disease, like diabetes on the rise, it is important that health care consumers have accurate information about the relationship between diabetes and oral health problems.
The Basics Of Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how the body makes and uses insulin, a crucial hormone that regulates blood glucose levels. When the pancreas can’t produce insulin (type 1 diabetes) or the body can’t use it properly (type 2 and gestational diabetes), this leads to hyperglycemia. But what does this mean for the teeth and gums? Well, high blood sugar both weakens the immune system and feeds bad oral bacteria, leaving diabetics vulnerable to oral inflammation and decay.
How Diabetes Affects Oral Health
22 percent of diabetics suffer from gum disease, ranging from gingivitis (inflammation) to periodontitis (advanced gum disease), which can threaten the health of teeth, gums, and even the underlying bone. Bacteria from gum disease can also endanger overall health if it reaches the bloodstream, making blood sugar even more difficult to regulate.
Some symptoms of gum disease that diabetics should watch out for include red, swollen, or bleeding gums, gum recession, bad breath, and loosened teeth. Dry mouth, simply a lack of saliva, another symptom of diabetes, increases the risk of developing gum disease. Saliva is crucial for regulating the mouth’s pH and washing away bacteria and food particles.
In addition to gum disease, uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a variety of other oral health problems including dry mouth, impaired or slower healing, burning mouth syndrome, salivary gland enlargement, more frequent and more severe infections, and fungal infections.
Fighting Back Against Diabetes
Some positive news for dental patients battling diabetes is that good oral health is still within reach. And keeping your mouth healthy will, in turn, make your diabetes easier to control! By brushing twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, avoiding smoking, and being careful with your sugar intake, you can keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Smileboston is Here to Help!
Just as crucial as your brushing and flossing routine is making regular trips to the dentist, and that might mean more than the standard two appointments a year. To play it safe, the doctors at Smileboston Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry recommend three or four yearly visits for diabetic patients. It is also essential that your doctor and your dental health care provider have the right information to be able to work as a team to keep you, your teeth, and your gums healthy.
Smileboston is here to help you in your fight for good oral health! With two beautiful offices in the Greater Boston area, Smileboston offers services ranging from general and implant dentistry to cosmetic procedures and full smile makeovers. Call 617-277-4100 to schedule and appointment on our Brookline office or 781-826-7577 for an appointment at our South Shore office in Pembroke, MA.