According to the CDC, over 37 million people in the United States have diabetes. And while most people are aware of the effects diabetes has on heart health, vision, and kidney function, many don’t realize that diabetes also increases the risk for oral health problems.
If blood sugar is poorly controlled, oral health problems are more likely to occur. Diabetes weakens the body’s ability to fight off infection, which means that even a small cut in the mouth can lead to serious problems. People with diabetes are also more likely to develop periodontal disease, which can eventually lead to tooth loss.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss how diabetes affects oral health and what you can do to protect your teeth and gums if you have diabetes.
5 Oral Health Conditions Linked to Diabetes
Dry mouth: Uncontrolled diabetes can decrease saliva production, leading to dry mouth. A dry mouth is more susceptible to infection, so it’s important to keep your mouth moist. Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can further dehydrate the mouth. Avoid tobacco use, which can also contribute to dry mouth.
Gum disease: Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) is common in people with diabetes. Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. Symptoms include red, swollen, or tender gums, bleeding during brushing or flossing, receding gums, and bad breath. Gum disease can cause teeth to become loose or fall out. If you have gum disease, it’s important to brush twice a day, floss daily, and see your dentist regularly so they can catch any problems early.
Thrush: Thrush is a yeast infection that occurs in the mouth when there is an overgrowth of Candida albicans—a type of fungus that’s commonly found in the mouth, digestive tract, and skin. People with diabetes are at increased risk for thrush because high blood sugar levels provide fuel for the yeast to grow. Symptoms include white patches on the tongue or inside of the cheeks, redness or soreness in the mouth, cracked lips, and difficulty swallowing.
Tooth decay: Tooth decay is another common problem in people with diabetes. When blood sugar levels are high, there is more sugar in the saliva for bacteria to feed on. This can lead to an increase in dental caries (cavities). To help prevent tooth decay, brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily. Cut down on sugary snacks and drinks, and see your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups so they can catch any problems early.
Burning mouth syndrome: Burning mouth syndrome is a condition that causes a burning sensation in the mouth. Research suggests that BMS is caused by damage to the nerves in your tongue. People with diabetes are at increased risk of burning mouth syndrome because they are more susceptible to infection and peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage).
Tips To Improve Your Oral Health
If you have diabetes, there are a few things you can do to improve your oral health
- Practice good oral hygiene, brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste & floss daily
- Keep your blood sugar levels under control
- Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups
- Limit sugary snacks and drinks
- Quit tobacco products
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Look after your overall health
- Eat a healthy diet
Your Oral Health Experts in Denver
If you have diabetes and are concerned about your oral health, the dental professionals at Dewitt Dental Associates can help. We offer a wide range of dental services, including teeth cleanings, root canal therapy, dental implants, and more. We also offer convenient financing options to make dental care affordable for everyone.
To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment, contact us today. We welcome patients from Cherry Creek, Englewood, and all surrounding Metro communities. Call (303) 321-5656 or complete the online booking form. We look forward to helping you achieve optimal oral health!