Diabetes and Oral Health: The Connection Explained

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Diabetes and Oral Health: The Connection Explained

Starting from the heart and kidneys to the eyes and nerves, diabetes affects almost all vital systems of the body. It causes many complications and also hampers the body’s natural ability to heal itself. But did you know that it affects the teeth and worsens dental complications?

As per the American Diabetes Association, people with high blood sugar develop severe gum diseases more frequently and lose more teeth than people with controlled blood sugar. A recent study found that more than a third of people with diabetes have severe gum diseases and many other dental complications.

This blog post explores the connection between diabetes and oral health. It lists the common types of dental problems caused by diabetes as well as the tips diabetes people can use to maintain good dental health. Read on to know more.

Dental complications caused by diabetes and high blood sugar

If a person is unable to control diabetes, then the glucose levels increase in saliva. It makes the mouth a breeding ground for bacteria to multiply. That can lead to chronic infection and inflammation in the mouth. As diabetes patients have lower resistance to infections and compromised healing ability, they are more likely to develop many dental problems. Some of them are listed below.

  1. Cavities (tooth decay)

People with diabetes have high sugar levels in their saliva. When the naturally occurring glucose comes in contact with bacteria and food particles, a clear sticky film is formed on the enamel. It’s known as plaque, which releases acids and corrodes the dentin and enamel in the teeth. The higher the glucose levels in saliva, the higher the chances of cavities and decay on the tooth surface.

  1. Gingivitis (gum disease)

People with diabetes can’t fight bacteria as easily as non-diabetic people. If the plaque isn’t removed from diabetic people’s mouths, it can turn into tartar over a period and can irritate gums. If the tartar builds up, it can swell the gums and make them bleed easily. 

  1. Periodontitis (advanced gum disease)

When gingivitis is left untreated, it can cause a more serious gum infection known as periodontitis. As diabetes reduces the ability to fight infection as well as compromises healing, the condition is more likely to be severe among people with uncontrolled blood sugar levels. A severe case of periodontitis can cause glucose levels to shoot up further and can result in a vicious cycle.

  1. Thrush

It is a fungal infection that multiplies in the mouth and other parts of the body such as the throat and cheeks. The infection is caused by the yeast Candida albicans and it is white, making it look like cottage cheese. People with diabetes are at higher risk of developing this infection.

  1. Dry mouth

High blood sugar levels can cause dehydration, which can cause dry mouth. The lack of saliva can cause harmful bacteria to thrive and raise the risk of cavities, gum diseases, and other dental complications.

Dental care tips for people with diabetes

Even though people with diabetes are more likely to develop many dental problems more easily than others, they can avoid the problems completely and maintain healthy teeth and gums with the following dental care tips.

  1. Determine to control your blood sugar

The first step to healthy teeth for people with diabetes is to have blood sugar levels and diabetes under control. Make a firm commitment to control your diabetes. Monitor your blood sugar regularly and adhere to your doctor’s instructions to control your diabetes. The better you manage your diabetes, the lesser the chances of developing severe gum diseases and other oral problems.

  1. Maintain dental hygiene

When it comes to maintaining healthy teeth and gums, nothing can beat regular dental hygiene. Brush at least twice a day, just after waking up as well as having supper, by using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Brush for two minutes using the right technique. Don’t brush too hard as it can put unnecessary pressure on gums. Floss at least once before going to bed. 

  1. Quit smoking

Smoking is the worst thing people with diabetes can do to their dental health as well as overall well-being. It not only increases the risk of severe gum disease and tooth loss, but also exacerbates many diabetes complications and can cause heart attack, brain stroke, and damage to the kidneys. If you smoke, then quit today.

  1. Eat a healthy diet and avoid sugary foods

Sugar is a sweet poison for people with diabetes. It may be good for the taste buds but extremely harmful to the body. Avoid sugar at all costs and eat a calcium-rich diet to maintain good teeth. Instead of snacking on acidic and sugary foods, eat fresh fruits such as crunchy apples, pears, peaches, and blackberries, to name a few. You can also snack on vegetable slices such as cucumbers, carrots, and celery.

  1. Remain well-hydrated

Water is the best beverage for people with diabetes. It helps in saliva production and prevents plaque accumulation. Fluoride in drinking water is excellent for your teeth. Apart from that, remaining well-hydrated can flush out excessive glucose.

  1. Use dental sealants

Dental sealants are also good for people with diabetes. The thin plastic coatings act as barriers and protect the teeth surface from acids and bacteria. They are extremely useful in preventing cavities and tooth decay.

  1. Visit your dentist regularly

Scheduling routine dental checkups and professional cleaning are as important as maintaining regular dental hygiene. A professional dentist will not only look for signs of dental complications and gum disease but will clean the mouth by using sophisticated dental tools, which will eliminate plaque buildup and nip all infections in the bud.

  1. Tell your dentist about your blood sugar levels

Each time you visit your dentist, tell them about your blood sugar levels. The information will help them look for specific problems in teeth and gums. By knowing your health condition, they can prescribe the right toothpaste and dental hygiene regimen for you.

  1. Pay extra attention to your teeth and gums

To avoid any dental complication, pay extra attention to your teeth and gums and look out for any anomalies or warning signs. If there are any dark spots on your teeth or your redness, swellings, or bruises on your gums, visit your dentist immediately.

All in all,

People with diabetes are at higher risk of developing several dental problems and complications. They must keep their blood glucose levels under control, take proper dental care extremely seriously, and schedule regular dental appointments. A professional and trustworthy dentist can play an important role in the treatment of dental complications and in saving natural teeth. If you’re looking for a reliable and experienced dentist in Roswell, GA, or neighboring areas such as Alpharetta, Dunwoody, Marietta, Milton, Sandy Springs, or Woodstock, consider TruCare Dentistry. To know more about our services, visit our website or call (678) 321-7575 to book an appointment today.