Diabetes can wreak havoc on various body parts, including our heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves. But did you know that diabetes can also affect your mouth and your oral health? Those who suffer from diabetes typically have an elevated risk of oral health issues than compared to those who don’t have the disease. The reason behind this is high blood sugar levels. If blood sugar is poorly controlled, a person is much more likely to develop oral health problems. This happens because uncontrolled diabetes weakens the white blood cells, which are the cells that constantly fight bacterial infections throughout the body, including the mouth. Additionally, if you smoke and have diabetes, you are 20 times more likely than non-smokers to develop oral health problems since smoking can impair blood flow to the gums.
Here are 4 oral health problems that people with diabetes tend to face more frequently than normal:
Dry Mouth – When a person has uncontrolled diabetes, the saliva flow in the mouth can decrease, resulting in dry mouth. As we know, dry mouth can then lead to a host of other oral health issues including ulcers, infections, soreness, and, of course, tooth decay.
Poor Oral Tissue Healing – Bruises aren’t the only things that don’t heal quickly in those who have diabetes – oral tissue heals much more slowly as well. Those who have uncontrolled diabetes tend to experience slower healing after oral surgery and other dental procedures because the blood flow to the treatment site can be damaged.
Gingivitis and Periodontitis – Aside from slow healing and weakened white blood cells, another complication of diabetes is that it can also cause blood vessels to thicken. This in turn slows the flow of nutrients to vital bodily organs and the transportation of waste products from bodily tissues – including the mouth. When this happens, your body loses its ability to ward off infections and complications. Those with uncontrolled diabetes may experience more frequent and also more severe gum disease (gingivitis). Left unchecked, this can easily graduate to periodontitis, which is a very serious condition that can ultimately cause you to lose your teeth.
Oral Thrush – If you have diabetes and need to take antibiotics to help you fight off various infections, then you are more prone to developing oral thrush, a fungal infection of the mouth and tongue. This fungus thrives on high levels of glucose, which are present in the saliva of those who have uncontrolled diabetes. You can also experience burning mouth and/or tongue, which is a condition that the presence of thrush causes.
If you have diabetes, don’t hesitate to tell your dentist about your condition. He or she can give you tips on how to care for your mouth so you decrease your chances of experiencing them. In addition, make sure that you keep flossing once a day and brushing at least twice a day to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Keep an eye on your oral health at all times and call your dentist if you notice any changes.
Need to see Dr. Foley? Request an appointment with us by calling (618) 288-9670 or by visiting us at www.foleydentalgroup.com. We can help you keep your mouth healthy, beautiful, and strong for years to come!