Diabetes and Oral Health

Diabetes, if left untreated or managed properly, not only can affect parts of the body such as your eyes and feet but also your teeth and gums. Here are some ways that Diabetes can affect your oral health.

Tooth Decay (cavities)

The sticky substance that forms on your teeth (plaque), contains bacteria and when combined with the sugar and starches in your mouth, acids are formed which can gradually destroy your teeth and result in a cavity. The higher your blood sugar levels, the greater supply of sugar to the bacteria results in a greater risk for decay. These high sugar levels may also help bacteria to survive.

Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease

If plaque builds up over time, it hardens into calcium deposits that can cause your gums to become inflamed or swollen. This in turn, if left untreated, can spread to the underlying bone and result in periodontal disease. Diabetics have a harder time fighting infection and slower healing time, therefore gingivitis and periodontal disease tend to be more severe in people afflicted with this condition.

Dry Mouth

A decrease in saliva flow in the mouth caused by high glucose levels increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Improving your blood sugar level can help restore salivary flow.

Yeast Infections of the mouth (Thrush)

Excess sugar in the saliva resulting from poorly controlled diabetes can lead to a buildup of fungus called Candida albincans and can cause thrush. Watch for creamy white patches on your tongue or inner cheek. This infection can also spread to other parts of your mouth or throat. Working with your health care professional to keep your blood glucose under control can help preserve your oral health. Maintaining a consistent oral hygiene routine including regular brushing of your teeth with a fluoridated toothpaste, regular floss use and following a healthy diet will also help.