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Does Diabetes Affect Our Oral Health?

Oral Health

Does Diabetes Affect Our Oral Health?

Apr 15

Tooth Abscesses

Diabetes is a huge problem in many parts of the world, including Canada. It is estimated that there are 11.7 million Canadians living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, and that number is continuing to grow.

Diabetes is a medical condition that affects blood sugar. It also affects vision and can lead to kidney failure, heart failure, heart attacks, strokes, and amputations. What you may not know is that it can also affect your mouth. 

Having diabetes can make you more at risk for cavities, gum disease, and other dental issues. This is due to the bacteria in your mouth. While the bacteria itself is not different, the nature and intensity of the body’s inflammatory response to the bacteria is different. If you have diabetes, you will have more of an inflammatory response, especially if your diabetes is not under control.  You could lose supporting tissue for your teeth and the tooth could become so loose that it has to be removed.

When you’re diabetic, there’s a lot at stake when it comes to your body. You need to spend the extra time and effort on your tooth and gum health. Here’s what you need to know if you are diabetic and want to keep your mouth healthy. 

The Impact to Your Mouth

Diabetes can affect your teeth and gums in many ways. Here are some examples:

oral health
  • Gum disease. Diabetes can make individuals more prone to gum disease, also known as periodontitis. This is due to the body’s reduced ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums. Periodontitis is caused by inflammation, which is a common concern with diabetes. High blood sugar levels can also contribute to the growth of bacteria that cause gum disease.
  • Increased risk of tooth decay. Those with diabetes may be at a higher risk of tooth decay due to elevated blood sugar levels. Bacteria in the mouth feed on sugars and produce acids that can erode tooth enamel, leading to cavities.
  • Dry mouth. Diabetes can lead to a decrease in saliva production, resulting in dry mouth, which is known as xerostomia. Saliva helps to wash away food particles and neutralize acids produced by bacteria. Without enough saliva, there is a higher risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and infections.
  • Thrush. People with diabetes may be more susceptible to fungal infections, such as oral thrush. Thrush can cause white patches to develop on the tongue, inner cheeks, and roof of the mouth. Thrush can be painful and make it difficult to eat.
  • Poor blood circulation. Diabetes can impair blood circulation, which may affect the gums’ ability to receive proper nutrients and oxygen. Poor circulation can also weaken the gums’ ability to resist infection and heal properly.
  • Delayed healing. Those with diabetes may experience delayed healing, which can affect the mouth’s ability to recover from oral surgeries, tooth extractions, or other dental procedures. This can cause infections and other complications.
  • Taste impairment. Diabetes can affect taste perception, leading to alterations in the way foods and beverages taste. This can affect a person’s appetite and nutritional intake.

Working With Your Dentist

Work with your dentist to control your diabetes and prevent oral health issues. Here are some things you and your dentist can do to protect your teeth and gums:

  • Use your diabetes medications as directed to keep your blood sugar levels under control. 
  • Live a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy foods and get plenty of exercise.
  • Avoid tobacco use, as smoking can harm your dental health.
  • If you have dentures or other removable appliances, clean them thoroughly every day.
  • Brush twice a day (morning and night) with a soft-bristled brush.
  • Use floss to clean between your teeth once a day.
  • See your dentist at least twice a year to remove plaque and keep your teeth clean. Depending on the health of your gums, you may need cleanings every three months. 

Contact Our North Vancouver Dentist Today

Chronic medical conditions such as diabetes can affect many parts of the body, including the teeth and gums. Many people with diabetes suffer from gum disease.
Blue Sky Dental can help you manage your health conditions while keeping your mouth in the best shape possible. Schedule an appointment with our office by calling (604) 971-6999 (existing clients) or (604) 330-0748 (new clients).

Ready for your first appointment?