Diabetes And Oral Health

diabetes-oral-careDiabetes increases your risk for dental problems by impairing your body’s ability to fight off the bacteria in your mouth. Diabetes is a medical condition characterized by high blood sugar levels, also known as hyperglycemia, which creates an environment in your mouth that allows bacteria to flourish. Left untreated, excess bacteria can contribute to the development of gum disease and dental infections.

Diabetes Increases Your Risk for Oral Health Problems

People with diabetes — even those with well-controlled blood sugar levels — are prone to infections. Diabetes also slows down healing so you recover from infections slowly. Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to a variety of other dental problems, including:

  • Dry mouth
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth loss
  • Thrush or other fungal infection

Diabetes and infection together can create a vicious cycle where hyperglycemia promotes bacterial infections, and infections can drive up blood sugar levels. Keeping your mouth healthy can help you control your diabetes to prevent this dangerous cycle from beginning in the first place. Bacteria, food and saliva come together to form sticky plaque immediately after you eat. Development of this plaque stimulates the release of acids that destroy your tooth enamel. In time, plaque turns into tartar and builds up under the gum line. As plaque remains on your teeth, it becomes more destructive and increasingly difficult to remove. The bacteria in the plaque inflame your gums in a way that leads to gum disease; hyperglycemia makes gum disease worse. Symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Red, swollen, bleeding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • An irregular bite or dentures that suddenly fit poorly

Reduce Your Risk for Oral Health Problems Associated with Diabetes

To reduce your risk for dental infections, see your dentist at Natural Horizons Wellness Centers at least twice a year. During your appointment, your dentist will look for signs of high bacteria count, infections and gum disease. Professional cleanings reduce your risk for gum infections in a way that helps break that cycle of infections and high blood sugar levels. Our dentists can also show you the best way to take care of your teeth and gums every day. You will learn helpful tips, such as holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against your gums and using gentle, back-and-forth motion all over your teeth for at least two minutes. We can also help you learn effective flossing techniques to control plaque in places your toothbrush cannot reach. If you wear dentures, our dentists will ensure a proper fit to reduce gum irritation, mouth sores and thrush. The health professionals at Natural Horizons Wellness Centers can also help you quit smoking if you are a tobacco user. Tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes and even smokeless tobacco can damage gum tissue, cause receding gums, and accelerate bone and tissue loss in a way that leads to tooth loss. Tobacco products can worsen dental conditions caused by diabetes. If you have diabetes, make an appointment today with Natural Horizons Wellness Centers to learn more about controlling your blood sugar levels and improving your oral health.

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