Last Updated on May 14, 2021
Numerous studies have shown that people who suffer from diabetes or who have irregular blood glucose levels have an increased likelihood of tooth problems and gum disease than people who don’t suffer from diabetes. One of the main reasons is because they have reduced resistance to infection and are unable to heal as easily. They also have less saliva in the mouth which is known to cause cavities.
You should pay special attention to your oral health and dental care and remember to manage your blood glucose levels if you find yourself living with diabetes. For advice about how to keep your teeth and gums healthy, you should regularly consult your dentist.
We spoke with Great Hill Dental Somerville who provided insightful information about the relationship between oral health and diabetes. Diabetes has been shown to negatively affect various systems of the body.
If you are uncertain about whether or not you suffer from diabetes, you can pay attention to what your body is telling you. The first signs and symptoms of diabetes can happen in the mouth, so if you pay close attention to your oral health you can also lead to faster diagnosis and treatment.
The most prevalent oral health problems facing persons with diabetes are:
- tooth decay
- periodontal (gum) disease
- taste disturbances
- gum abscesses
- a dry, burning mouth (low saliva levels).
- mouth ulcers
- fungal infections such as thrush
- lichen planus (an inflammatory, autoimmune skin condition)
Diabetes and periodontal (gum) disease
Periodontal disease or gum disease is caused by an infection that damages the bone that supports and surrounds your teeth. The purpose of this bone is to hold your teeth into your jawbone and allow you to comfortably chew. Gum disease can only thrive if there are bacteria and food debris called dental plaque.
Plaque hardens and becomes calculus or tartar if it is left on gums and teeth. The gums around teeth, become red, swollen, and bleed because the plaque and calculus irritate them. More bone is lost, with the progression of gum disease. Teeth may need to be removed or become loose and may fall out by themselves.
People with suboptimal blood glucose levels are more likely to suffer from gum disease, and it is also more severe. This is due to the fact that they generally have reduced resistance to infection and lower healing capacity.
To prevent gum disease, it is essential that you take care of your oral health and control your blood glucose levels. Both these actions are crucial to oral health and health in general. By treating gum disease we can improve the blood glucose levels of people living with diabetes. This is important because people with optimal blood glucose levels, typically respond very well to dental treatment.
Symptoms of Periodontal gum disease
Please pay a visit to your dentist right away if you see any signs and symptoms of gum disease, such as:
- loose teeth – this can change the ‘feel’ of your bite when your teeth are placed together or may make dentures fit differently
- gums that are loose and pull away from the teeth
- a persistent discharge (pus) coming from the gums
- red, swollen, tender, bleeding gums
- a bad taste or bad breath
- spaces opening up between your teeth.
Diabetes and tooth decay
People with higher blood glucose levels and people living with diabetes usually have higher glucose levels in their saliva and very dry mouths. These conditions create an environment where dental plaque builds up on teeth. This results in tooth decay and cavities.
If you thoroughly clean your teeth and gums twice daily with a good toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, dental plaque will be removed successfully. To clean between your teeth, you should use interdental cleaners or dental floss daily. To prevent cavities and gum disease, start by implementing a proper oral health routine and taking good care of them.
Diabetes and oral fungal infections
People who suffer from diabetes and gum disease may also have oral fungal infections. One of such infections is called oral thrush, Oral thrush (candidiasis) is a fungal infection caused by an overgrowth of the yeast, Candida albicans, which occurs in the mouth, naturally. Some conditions that can contribute to oral thrush are diabetes which leads to high glucose in saliva, poor resistance to infection, and low saliva levels.
To successfully treat oral thrush, good mouth hygiene and optimal blood glucose levels are essential. You can also pay a visit to your dentist to treat this condition by giving you antifungal medications.
Caring for your teeth and gums
Remember to thoroughly clean your gums and teeth twice a day with good fluoride toothpaste. To keep your blood glucose levels as close to optimal levels as possible you also need to follow your doctor’s recommendation about diet and medication. To clean between your teeth, use dental floss or interdental cleaners every day.