With an estimated 29 million sufferers, diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases in the United States. Diabetes affects multiple areas of the body and if left untreated can result in loss of limb and even death. Many people do not realize that diabetes can also have an adverse affect on your oral health as well, largely due to the fact that the condition hinders blood flow and increases the amount of glucose found in the blood.

How Diabetes Can Harm Oral Health

There are two major conditions that you should be aware of in regards to diabetes and your oral health: gum disease and thrush. Gum disease is an infection in the gums that begins with bleeding and irritated gums, what is described as gingivitis. If left unchecked it can worsen to periodontitis which can cause your teeth to fall out. At all levels, gum disease can contribute to deadly conditions like heart attack, stroke, and even cancer risk.

Diabetics are at an increased risk for gum disease due to the fact that circulation often suffers as a result of the condition, and because diabetes causes blood glucose levels to increase. The bacteria that cause gum disease need glucose in order to replicate, and because your gums and teeth get nutrients from blood that flows through the gums, high levels of glucose in the blood can accelerate the process of infection and decay. One of the common symptoms of diabetes is dry mouth. Because saliva is our body’s natural antibiotic, a shortage of saliva can encourage the growth of bacteria.

Thrush is a fungal infection that can occur in the mouth and other areas of the body. If left untreated, thrush can spread into other areas, such as the esophagus, lungs, and liver. While it is generally not a fatal disease, if left untreated and allowed to spread it can infect key areas of the body and lead to health threatening complications. Candida fungi take advantage of the dry mouth related to diabetes. This coupled with increased levels of glucose in the mouth serve as a perfect place for thrush to develop.
Woman taking blood sample for measuring sugar level

How to Protect Your Teeth and Gums

It is important to maintain healthy blood sugar levels if you are diabetic. This means regularly taking insulin and monitoring your diet. You should also brush your teeth twice per day and floss at least once per day. Brushing and flossing typically is not enough, and while many people try to avoid it, you should also be regularly visiting your dentist.

A good dentist will not only make sure your teeth are healthy and clean, but will also help guide you to maintain your oral health at home. Preventative dentistry will also help save you more money in the long run. Going to the dentist doesn’t have to be scary, if you live in the Orlando area and are looking for a dentist you can trust, please visit Dr. Weinstock at Michael L. Weinstock, DDS in Altamonte Springs. Please give us a call at (407) 834-6446 to schedule an appointment today.