According to the CDC, about 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes. That’s over 30 million people! What’s more, of those people, 90-95% have type 2 diabetes. One question we get a lot from diabetic patients is, “how does diabetes affect oral health?” In this article, we’ll look at the different oral health conditions diabetes can cause.
The connection between diabetes and oral health is high blood sugar. Since bacteria feeds on sugar, people who suffer from this condition have a higher risk of developing dental issues. Those who eat sugary foods also have an increased risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease.
How Does Diabetes Affect Oral Health? 5 Related Conditions
1. Dry Mouth
You may experience dry mouth because high blood sugar can lead to a decrease in saliva flow. Without saliva to keep your mouth moist, plaque can build up and thrive on your teeth. For that reason, keep drinking water within healthy limits. In addition, you may wish to chew sugar-free gum to promote saliva production. However, stop chewing gum if you experience jaw pain or TMJ symptoms.
2. Slowed Healing Capacity
Diabetic people who have undergone oral surgery and other dental procedures may find their recovery slower when compared to healthy people.
3. Early Gum Disease (Gingivitis)
Gingivitis inflames your gums and they may bleed often. This is because diabetes causes blood vessels to thicken and lessens the body’s ability to fight infections. Gingivitis is a bacterial infection. For that reason, it’s harder for people with diabetes to fight off inflammation due to their weakened immune systems.
4. Advanced Gum Disease (Periodontitis)
If left untreated, gingivitis often leads to a more serious gum condition called periodontitis. This causes the gums and jawbone to pull away from the teeth. And that, in turn, can cause teeth to loosen up or fall off.
5. Oral Thrush
White or red patches that have turned into sores inside the mouth are caused by an overgrowth of the fungus called Candida albicans. This fungus occurs naturally in the mouth. However, this yeast thrives on sugar found in the saliva and is linked to diabetes. Your dentist can prescribe antifungal medications to treat the thrush.
If you have diabetes, we advise you to not only monitor your blood sugar level, but also to prevent tooth decay and gum disease from happening. Keeping your sugar level at a normal range reduces the risk of the bacterial infection from spreading.
Regularly check your mouth for any of the conditions mentioned above. If you notice any signs, see your Premier dentist right away for proper home care tips and preventive maintenance services.