More than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), making it one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the country. Diabetes can make someone more at risk for a number of other conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, vision loss and even dental problems.
How diabetes affects oral health
The main connection between diabetes and oral health problems is high blood sugar. When a person has diabetes, it results in too much sugar in the bloodstream. In Type I diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin, a type of hormone that brings sugar from your blood to the cells that use it as energy. In Type II diabetes, your body stops responding to insulin. Both cases result in high blood sugar.
If blood sugar in someone with diabetes isn’t controlled, oral health problems are more likely to develop. Uncontrolled diabetes and blood sugar ends up weakening white blood cells, which act as the body’s main defense mechanism against bacterial infections that can happen in your mouth.
Oral health risks for people with diabetes
People with diabetes are more susceptible to certain oral health conditions. They include:
● Dry mouth – People with high blood sugar don’t make as much saliva. According to the Cleveland Clinic, dry mouth can further lead to sores, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay.
● Oral thrush – People with diabetes that is poorly controlled often end up taking antibiotics often to fight off infections. Taking antibiotics often puts you at a high risk for a fungal infection of the mouth known as oral thrush. The yeast that grows with oral thrush feed off high blood sugar in the saliva of those with diabetes. People who wear dentures and have diabetes are at an especially high risk for thrush.
● Gum disease – High blood sugar that isn’t controlled also causes blood vessels to thicken, making it harder for the body to rid itself of bacteria and waste from the mouth. If bacteria can thrive and the diabetes also weakens the immune system, it’s easier to get mouth infections and gum disease.
● Slow-healing trauma – Because of the weakened white blood cells, which heal the body, if you have a mouth sore or other trauma, it will take longer to heal and could potentially get worse before it gets better. Any dental procedure site may bleed more and take longer to heal.
Preventing diabetes-related oral health issues
The most important thing in preventing oral health problems or any kind of diabetes side effect conditions is keeping a normal blood sugar level. If your blood sugar is normal and stable, the environment for diabetes-related oral health issues is not likely to form. People whose diabetes is well-controlled have no more tooth decay or periodontal disease than people without diabetes. Good oral hygiene and consistent blood sugar control are the best ways to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
If you would like to schedule a free consultation to determine the overall health of your mouth, teeth, and gums, call us today at (850) 542-4428. Or listen to what other patients of Dr. Djuric have to say about Perdido Bay Dental: read patient reviews.