Most people wouldn’t make the connection between oral health and diabetes but there is actually a lot of research linking the two. In fact individuals that have diabetes are 2X more likely to develop gum disease and other oral health issues.
How Diabetes Affects Oral Health:
Diabetes causes healing to slow and causes the body to have a harder time fighting infection. This causes infections like gum disease to become more severe than in individuals that don’t have diabetes. Specific to oral health issues, diabetes decreases the amount of saliva your body makes and increases the amount of sugar in your saliva. This is detrimental because saliva protects the teeth and gums helping fight decay and breakdown hidden food particles. Without enough saliva and with too much sugar in it, diabetes creates an environment where infections and decay can flourish. But gum disease isn’t the only issue diabetics have to worry about when it comes to oral health, numerous other oral health problems also stem from diabetes.
Other Oral Health Problems Common with Diabetics:
- Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS) – often described as a burning sensation in the tongue, roof of mouth, gums, cheeks, and back of the throat, this painful condition isn’t fully understood. However, studies have found it is more common in diabetics than the overall population.
- Dry mouth – also known as xerostomia. This condition is caused by the reduced production of saliva and can lead to decay, ulcers, and infections.
- Thrush – this is a fungal disease that thrives in the oral environment created by diabetes (low saliva flow, higher sugar levels in saliva). Thrush creates white patches in the mouth and on the tongue that can become sore or turn into ulcers. If untreated thrush can create difficulty swallowing and reduce taste.
- Poor healing of oral tissues – after dental procedures or injuries to the mouth, oral tissue is heal slower in diabetic patients.
What To Do To Lower Your Oral Health Risks As A Diabetic:
Although diabetics have an increased risk of oral health issues, that doesn’t mean it is inevitable that they will develop gum disease. Diabetics should follow the tips below to make sure the reduce their risk of developing oral health issues as much as possible.
Make Sure Your Diabetes Is Controlled.
Keep your glucose levels in check to reduce the chance of developing oral issues. Uncontrolled diabetes patients have even higher risk of gum disease 2.9x more than patients that don’t have diabetes and .9X more than patients have their glucose levels well controlled.
Look Out For Early Signs Of Gum Disease.
Because diabetics are prone to higher rates of gum disease be on the look out for early symptoms such as: bleeding gums when you brush/floss, red or swollen gums, bad breath, gums that have pulled away from the tooth, loose permanent teeth.
Have Good Dental Hygiene.
Since your diabetes gives you a higher risk of oral issues it’s best to make sure you have optimal dental hygiene to reduce that risk. Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time. But don’t just brush back and forth, focus on getting all angles of your teeth using circular motions. Also remember to floss once a day.
Visit Your Dentists For Teeth Cleanings.
Visit your dentist for teeth cleanings every 6 months and make sure to tell them you have diabetes. Removing built up plaque and tarter from your mouth regularly can go a long ways in reducing your risk for gum disease.
Don’t Smoke/Quit Smoking.
Smoking while having diabetes raises your risk of developing gum disease. Smoking diabetics have a 4.9x more risk of developing gum disease than those that don’t have diabetes and 2.9x more than diabetics that don’t smoke.
If you are a diabetic and are experiencing symptoms of gum disease or other oral health issues schedule an appointment with one of our experienced oral health experts today. Give us a call at 202-919-6547 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your consultation.