Diabetes and Oral Health
Diabetes is very common, as according to the National Diabetes Fact Sheet 2011, 25.8 million people in the US have this condition, and every year 1.9 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed. Most people with this condition will be all too well aware of the impact it can have on general health, but not so many know about the effect it can have on oral health.
Some diabetics have problems managing their blood sugar levels, and this can increase the risk of oral diseases such as tooth decay and gum disease. In addition diabetics are more likely to suffer from fungal infections, mouth ulcers, and to have a condition called dry mouth which is where insufficient saliva is produced to keep the mouth clean and healthy.
Learn Why It’s so Important to Control Blood Sugar Levels
Managing blood sugar levels is extremely important for maintaining good oral health. When blood sugar levels are poorly controlled, then there’s an excess of glucose in the saliva. Bacteria that are naturally present in the mouth will use the glucose as an energy source, allowing them to thrive. At the same time they’ll produce acid that attacks the tooth enamel, softening and weakening it and increasing the chance of tooth decay. The presence of these bacteria also irritates the gums, and can lead to the development of gum disease.
Gum disease is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation in the gum tissues. This inflammation is extremely damaging and will gradually destroy the gum tissue, the ligaments holding teeth in place and the bone surrounding the teeth. If you have advanced gum disease, a condition called periodontal disease, then your gums are likely to bleed. This allows the bacteria in the mouth to enter into the bloodstream, and from there they can travel anywhere in the body creating more inflammation. There have been a lot of studies conducted into the link between gum disease and diabetes, and it seems as if once the bacteria enter the bloodstream it becomes more difficult to control blood sugar levels.
Poorly controlled diabetes makes it more difficult for diseased gums to heal properly as resistance against infection is lower. In addition diabetes can constrict the blood vessels, making it far more difficult for the body to transport nutrients necessary to heal the gums, and to carry away toxins.
Tooth decay and gum disease can be exacerbated by dry mouth. Without sufficient saliva bacteria levels in the mouth can quickly build up, increasing the risk of both these diseases.
Your Dentist Can Help You Fight Back
If you do have diabetes your dentist can help you keep your mouth as healthy as possible through providing you with additional dental care when necessary, and lots of information on diabetes and oral health and how to care for your teeth and gums at home. Dr. Kerikorian at Green California Dental Group might recommend you come in more frequently for professional cleanings and checkups.
Additional preventative dental care will enable our dental team to pick up any small problems and to treat them before they become any worse. We can also advise you on the best products to use at home, and the best techniques for brushing and flossing. If you have dry mouth, then ask our dental team for advice on managing this condition as there are lots of things that can be done to help you feel more comfortable and to lower your risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Managing your dental health will help you to manage your diabetes, hopefully improving your general health, and we think it is well worth the effort.