The Diabetes-Dental Health Connection

Many people are ignorant of the fact that diabetes can cause periodontal disease and other dental health problems. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) points out that people with Type I diabetes and Type II diabetes are highly vulnerable to tooth decay, gum disease, and oral fungal infections. Let us now take a detailed look at the connection between diabetes and your dental health.

The Reasons Diabetic People Are More Prone to Dental Health Problems

The connection between diabetes and oral health issues is high blood sugar. With improperly controlled blood sugar, you are at a higher risk of developing oral health problems. Uncontrolled blood sugar results in weakened white blood cells.

White blood cells protect the body against bacterial infections that can affect your mouth. Hence, controlling diabetes can help avert the development of dental health problems.

Dental Health Problems That Affect People with Diabetes

If you have Type I or Type II diabetes, you are more vulnerable to:

  • Cavities – A wide variety of bacteria naturally live in your mouth. When sugars in foods and drinks react with these bacteria, it results in the formation of a sticky substance known as a plaque on your teeth. This substance contains acids, which can erode the surface of your teeth, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.

The amount of sugar in your mouth increases as your blood sugar rises, and hence, the more acid that erodes your teeth.

  • Gingivitis – Diabetes minimizes your capacity to fight bacteria. You should prevent plaque buildup by conducting proper oral hygiene. Otherwise, the plaque will harden under your gum line to form tartar.

The plaque and tartar will eventually begin to irritate your gums near the base of your teeth. Consequently, the gums become swollen and prone to bleeding when you brush or floss. This condition is called gingivitis.

  • Periodontitis – Untreated gingivitis can advance to a more serious dental infection known as periodontitis. This infection damages the teeth’s supporting structure. In the end, your jawbone and gums pull away from the teeth, causing your teeth to become loose and potentially fall out.
  • Thrush – Caused by the yeast Candida albicans, thrush is a fungal infection that mostly affects diabetic people.  The infection results in red or white patches in your mouth. These patches can be unbearably painful. You can prevent thrush by conducting proper oral hygiene.
  • Xerostomia – This is dry mouth. If you have diabetes, you may experience saliva deficiency. Saliva keeps your mouth moist and bathes your teeth. Without it, you may be prone to cavities, thrush, and gingivitis.

How Your Dentist Can Help You Combat Diabetes

It is essential to visit your dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleaning. According to research, treating gum disease can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, minimizing the advancement of the disease. Also, observing proper oral hygiene plays a significant role in lowering your HbA1c, a measurement of your average blood sugar levels over the past three months.

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