The short answer is yes: diabetics are more susceptible to oral health problems. But not to fear – there is something you can do about it! We are going to discuss how diabetes affects oral health, warning signs to look for showing that diabetes is taking a toll on dental health, and some tips on how to fight back.
The Effects of Diabetes on Oral Health
When your blood sugar is high on a regular basis, it can have several different effects on the mouth. First of all, diabetes can lead to a dry mouth. When the mouth is dry, bacteria can spread faster. This leads to tooth decay and gum disease. Diabetes can also result in fungal infections in the mouth. These infections feed on sugar.
Early Warning Signs
The following symptoms can tip you off that high blood sugar is starting to take its toll on your oral health:
Inflammation – Before periodontal disease sets in, it is usually preceded by inflamed gums. This inflammation is caused by a buildup of bacteria, plaque, and tartar along the gumline.
Dry Mouth – Your saliva keeps your teeth healthy by washing away bacteria. Unfortunately, high blood sugar dries out the mouth leading to decay.
Thrush – Thrush is a fungal infection of the mouth. Sugar feeds it. When a person’s blood sugar is high, saliva sugar levels are increased as well. It is a sure sign of diabetes that is out of control.
How Dental Health Affects Blood Sugar
Unfortunately, the system can quickly become self-perpetuating. High blood sugar causes infection in the mouth. That infection, in turn, makes it difficult to control blood sugar. Is there anything you can do?
Controlling Your Health from Two Sides
You need to address this issue from both fronts. First, it is important to check your blood sugar regularly, stick to a low or no-sugar diet, and take your diabetes medication according to schedule. Keeping your blood sugar under control will keep your oral health under control.
On the dental side of things, you need to be sure to care well for your teeth and gums. Brush and floss on a regular schedule using the proper techniques. You may need to see your hygienist for a cleaning more often than the recommended six-month intervals to ensure that tartar does not build up. Your dentist can also address infections. Curing these will help you to keep your sugar levels under control.
If you suffer from diabetes, do not resign yourself to lost teeth and oral infections. You can win the battle, and your dentist will help.