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How Can Diabetes Affect Your Oral Health?

Jolie Wiener
By: Jolie Wiener
June 8, 2020

Did you know that an estimated 400 million people are living with diabetes worldwide? The World Health Organization believes 90% of those people have type 2 diabetes. And with such a large number of the world’s population living with diabetes, it’s important to understand how it affects your oral health.

Diabetes can affect all aspects of your overall health, especially if you aren’t vigilant. If you have diabetes, you may already know that dental problems and diabetes are linked. 

Learning how to take excellent care of your teeth and gums is crucial if you are living with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Proper hygiene can prevent serious dental issues further down the line.

The article will give you all the information you need about how diabetes affects your oral health. We will discuss the relationship between diabetes and dental health, the main reasons why diabetes can lead to poor dental health, specific dental issues that can arise, and some tips on maintaining healthy teeth with diabetes.

Why Does Diabetes Affect Oral Health?

People with diabetes typically have poor control over their blood glucose levels, which can make them more likely to develop a range of oral health problems. Because the blood supply to the gums can be reduced for people with diabetes, it is more likely that infections will develop in the gums and bones around the teeth.

High blood sugar levels can lead to a dry mouth. Less saliva increases the risk of tooth decay and plaque buildup. 

What Dental Issues Can Diabetes Cause?

Diabetes type 1 and type 2 diabetes can cause a range of oral health problems. Here are a few of the most common issues in diabetic patients.

Tooth Decay

People often ask if diabetes can cause tooth decay. The short answer is, yes.

Tooth decay, also known as cavities, occurs when the bacteria in the mouth interact with the bacteria from sugars in our food. This interaction creates an acidic substance known as plaque, which wears away at the tooth’s enamel leading to cavities. 

Those with diabetes tend to have higher blood sugar levels, which makes the buildup of plaque much more likely. 

Gum Disease

Gum disease occurs when excessive plaque buildup results in a substance called tartar around the base of the teeth and the gum line. This substance will irritate the gums, which may become swollen and will bleed easily. 

If left untreated, more serious infections can develop, such as periodontitis, which can eventually result in loose teeth or even teeth loss.

Thrush

People with diabetes are at risk of developing thrush, a fungal infection. If you notice painful white of red patches on the inside of your mouth, these are usually symptoms of thrush.

What Can I Do to Protect My Teeth?

Diabetic patients are at a much greater risk of developing serious dental problems. Making a commitment to monitoring your diabetes and taking proper care of your teeth will help prevent dental health problems from arising.

Manage Your Diabetes 

Monitor your blood sugar and abide by your doctor’s recommendations. Aim to stay within your target range. By maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, your body will be less likely to create plaque buildup, which can lead to serious dental problems.

Oral Hygiene

Practicing good oral hygiene if you have diabetes is essential. This means brushing your teeth with a soft brush at least twice a day and flossing once a day. Replace your toothbrush every three months. 

Use toothpaste that contains fluoride. Try not to brush too aggressively as this can further irritate the gums. Flossing will help to remove plaque from between the teeth and around the gum line.

Regular Dental Visits

Visit your density regularly, especially if you have diabetes. Your dentist will be able to treat any minor issues before they develop into anything more serious. They will also deep clean your teeth to remove any excess plaque that has built up. 

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and have concerns about your oral health, don’t worry. As long as you maintain your blood sugar levels and take good care of your oral hygiene, it’s possible to keep your teeth healthy and strong for years to come.

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