The sweet tooth. Who knew that it could cause so much trouble. It’s no surprise that too much sugar can lead to cavities, but a lifetime of too much sugar consumption may lead to diabetes, a disease that affects your body’s ability to process sugar and turn it into necessary energy. Diabetes attacks in so many ways. Most commonly known for increased risk of stroke or heart attack, there is a big link between diabetes and oral health.
What is Diabetes?
Our body naturally produces insulin, the hormone that turns sugar into energy and then carries that energy to needed cells. Whether it’s Type 1 Diabetes (where your body doesn’t produce enough insulin) or Type 2 (where your body has built up a resistance to insulin), the effects of unregulated blood sugar can cause havoc on your entire system, including your mouth.
Those living with diabetes are at a higher risk for:
- Gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease)
- Periodontitis (serious gum disease)
- Thrush (an infection caused by fungus that grows in the mouth)
- Dry mouth (causes soreness, ulcers, infections, and cavities)
The most notable risk associated with diabetes and dental health is periodontal disease, an inflammatory disease that can destroy gums, the tissue holding the teeth and eventually even the bones. According to the American Dental Association, periodontal disease is the most common dental disease among those living with diabetes, affecting nearly 22% of those diagnosed. Like all infections, gum disease may be a factor in causing blood glucose to rise and may make diabetes harder to control. Poor blood sugar control can result in inflammation in the gums, thereby allowing excess bacteria to enter into the bloodstream, and making infections harder to ward off.
Diabetes and Dental Health: Plan of Action
Regular dental visits are critical. Keep your dentist informed of any changes in your condition and any medication you are taking.
In addition, make sure to:
- Control your blood sugar through a healthy diet and medications, if prescribed
- Stop smoking
- Maintain good healthcare habits to include brushing and flossing daily
- Practice good care for any dentures or partials
- Make sure your blood sugar is in good control before having any non-emergency dental procedures
Research has shown that treating your gum disease may actually assist in lowering your blood sugar. Good blood sugar control will also help your body fight any bacterial or fungal infections in your mouth and help relieve dry mouth caused by diabetes. Living with diabetes requires vigilance to diet and overall health care. Taking control of your diabetes and oral health go hand-in-hand as good habits lead to improved health. Dr. Mitchmore and the entire team at LifeSmiles understand the risks of diabetes and oral health and are ready to help you maintain your best smile. Contact the team who is here to help you keep your oral health on track.