How Does Diabetes Impact Oral Health?
Diabetes affects 9.3% of the American population and in some circumstances people don’t even know that they have it. Diabetes (type I and II) both cause problems with how your body processes the sugar that you take in. While both types of diabetes have different mechanisms, blood sugar levels may rise well above normal in both cases. Long term damage can be done to your nerves, blood vessels, heart, eyes, kidneys, and other parts of your body including your mouth! Today we’ll explain how diabetes can cause problems in the mouth and what you can do to help protect your smile.
First lets talk about symptoms of diabetes. Common signs and symptoms of diabetes include:
- Feeling thirsty constantly
- Urinating frequently
- Gum irritation and bleed often
- Delayed wound healing
- Infections popping up in your mouth
If you are unsure if you have diabetes or commonly experience any or all of these symptoms do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with your physician so that proper tests can be done to determine if diabetes is causing these problems.
How Does Diabetes Impact Oral Health
- Periodontal Disease: People who suffer from diabetes are at a higher risk for developing a condition called periodontitis. Periodontitis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes destruction of the soft tissue and bone that support teeth. Periodontitis can result in tooth loss. Diabetes can lower the function of the immune system, making it easier for diabetic people to get infections including periodontitis. Patients who have uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetes are at a much higher risk of developing periodontitis. The American Academy of Periodontology says research suggests that active periodontitis may make it even harder for diabetics to get their blood sugar under control.
- Dry Mouth: Diabetics typically have less saliva. This is caused by taking medications to treat diabetes, but also because of elevated blood sugar. Dry mouth can contribute to the development of cavities and can cause bad breath. If you are suffering from dry mouth be sure be sure to frequently drink water or use a saliva substitute like biotene. Chewing crunchy and healthy snacks like vegetables can help stimulate salivary flow.
- Oral Infections: as mentioned above, diabetes may limit the immune system, leaving patients more vulnerable to infections. A common yeast infection that may develop in the diabetic patient is thrush (candidiasis). It often appears on the tongue or the cheeks and is common in denture wearers who have diabetes.
Let Us Help
Regular dental exams are important for everyone, and may be even more important if you have diabetes. If you have periodontitis related to diabetes we can help to prevent further damage from the infection by performing a professional deep cleaning. We will review proper oral hygiene so that you can maintain your teeth between professional cleanings. It is important to keep your blood sugar levels controlled and that you are brushing your teeth 2-3 times/day for at least 2 minutes and flossing at least 1 time/day. If you wear dentures you should take them out and clean them everyday. Finally, we recommend that you come in to have periodic exams completed by Dr. Johnson or Dr. Long to help monitor and diagnose any issues. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog today, you can reach us at the office by calling 317-535-7141. Have a great day!