The Not-So-Sweet Connection Between Diabetes and Oral Health
By Ann R. Sielicki, DDS on June 20, 2019
Certain medical conditions can raise the risk of oral health problems. Diabetes is a good example. People with diabetes have a hard time processing sugar, and if their condition is not well controlled, their blood sugar or blood glucose levels are too high. The consequences of this can take a serious toll on the health of the teeth and gums.
In this post, Dr. Ann Sielicki of Sonoran Dental Design explains exactly how diabetes can affect oral health, and suggests steps to take to reduce the risk of diabetes-related oral health problems.
Oral Health Problems Linked to Diabetes
People with diabetes are more likely to experience the following oral health problems:
Uncontrolled diabetes can reduce the flow of saliva, leading to uncomfortable dry mouth symptoms. Chronic dry mouth may cause problems such as soreness and ulcers.
Saliva is the body’s natural way of “rinsing” the mouth (i.e., removing small food particles that feed the bacteria that causes tooth decay). Without enough saliva, people with diabetes face a higher risk of developing tooth decay.
Poorly controlled diabetes impedes the immune system and makes it more difficult to ward off bacterial and fungal infections. One example is thrush, an infection caused by fungus that grows in the mouth.
Slow Healing after Oral Surgery
Uncontrolled diabetes can cause the blood vessels to thicken, slowing the flow of nutrients to and waste products out of tissues in the mouth. People with diabetes may have a hard time healing quickly after a dental procedure or oral surgery.
The relationship between diabetes and gum disease is complex. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels make a person more susceptible to infection and decrease the ability to fight off bacteria that attacks the gums. Also, serious gum disease can cause blood sugar levels to rise, making it harder to control diabetes. Almost 22 percent of people with diabetes have some form of periodontal disease.
Proactive Measures Reduce the Risk of Oral Health Problems
Taking the following measures can reduce the risk of developing oral health problems:
- Control blood sugar levels with medication and a healthy diet.
- Be diligent about oral hygiene habits to reduce bacteria in the mouth.
- Visit a dentist regularly for cleanings and exams to catch signs of a problem early.
Always keep the dentist and hygienist informed of any medical conditions or current medications.
Contact Sonoran Dental Design
For more information about preventing dental problems associated with diabetes, contact Dr. Sielicki at Sonoran Dental Design. Call or email us today.
“Dr. Sielicki and her staff are professional and I immediately felt comfortable. My teeth look fantastic. I could not be more pleased with the outcome.” Emily