Diabetes affects nearly 10% of the population in the United States. This disease changes a person’s life in so many ways. Since diabetes alters the body’s ability to process sugar, it changes how you feel and how you interact with food on a daily basis, and it can also affect your oral health. Below, Flintlock Dental will take a closer look at some of the oral health issues that can arise as a result of diabetes.
Diabetes and Gum Disease
There’s a connection between diabetes and gum disease. Around 20% of diabetes patients suffer from some type of gum disease, such as gingivitis or periodontal disease. In fact, if you have diabetes, you are 4 times more likely to develop gum disease in your lifetime. If you struggle to control your sugar levels, this places you at an even higher risk. Even more troubling is that the link between the two problems can go both ways. Some research has shown that having gum disease can actually affect your ability to control stable blood glucose levels.
Gum disease occurs when bacteria infects the gum line, which can inflame the gums and cause damage to the surrounding soft tissues and bone in your mouth. Leaving gum disease untreated can lead to even more oral health problems down the line. You might experience symptoms that range from bad breath to bleeding gums and even tooth loss. Even worse, tooth decay has been linked to severe health problems such as heart disease and stroke. Having diabetes on top of oral health issues can also slow the healing process of gum disease. All of these problems mean that you should get your mouth checked regularly to make sure that your gums are healthy and heal properly, should you develop gum disease.
Diabetes and Dental Implants
Dental implants and bridges are common procedures for those who have lost several teeth. With the link between diabetes and gum disease, it’s possible that you may need dental implants at some point if you have diabetes and are prone to gum disease. However, there can be further issues with a diabetic patient’s ability to have this type of implant installed, based on the overall health of the surrounding gums.
If you have diabetes and are looking to install some dental implants, you need to set up a plan with your dentist to ensure that your gums are healthy enough to handle them. If your gums are healthy enough, you also need to make sure that your blood sugar is under control. Once those two factors are in good shape and you do get some dental implants, you will need to be monitored closely by your dentist. This is due to the fact that healing times are longer and risks for infection are higher for people with diabetes. Take care to make sure that your blood sugar levels stay in a good place and that you keep all follow-up appointments with your dentist after having implants installed, so you can keep your gums healthy and speed up the healing process.
Diabetes and Other Dental Issues
Along with gingivitis and the more severe periodontal gum disease, there are some other oral health issues to be aware of if you have diabetes:
Cavities - The sugars in food and drink attach to your gums and teeth, causing a layer of plaque to form. If you have diabetes and a higher blood sugar level, you are more likely to have a higher content of sugar in your mouth. This can lead to more microbes wearing away at your teeth and ultimately create more cavities.
Dry Mouth - Some patients with diabetes experience a lower level of saliva production, which can lead to dry mouth. Without saliva to help wash your mouth out and keep the pH balanced, you are more prone to developing cavities and gum disease.
Thrush - This is a fungal infection that’s caused by an excess of yeast growing in the mouth. Making sure you have good oral hygiene habits can help prevent thrush, and your dentist can help you treat it if it becomes a problem.
Protecting Your Oral Health with Diabetes
If you have diabetes, you should let your dentist know, so they can monitor your oral health very closely. You will also want to inform your physician if you do have any oral health issues. Letting both your dentist and physician know of any potential problems can help them work together in making sure your overall health and oral health are in good shape. Keeping good control over your blood sugar levels is one of the best things you can do for your mouth, along with your body.
Patients with diabetes need to be even more on top of keeping up with regular visits to the dentist, including those routine cleanings every six months. By doing this, you and your dentist can stay on top of your oral health and catch any early signs of gum disease or other health issue going on, whether or not it’s due to your diabetes. When it comes to dental health, it’s much better to solve problems early, so you can avoid the pain and stress that comes along with complications that develop over time.