How Diabetes Can Affect Your Teeth

Diabetes can make a person more prone to gum disease and other oral infections. Proper dental care is absolutely key!

Diabetes can cause long term damage to the body. Because diabetes affects blood vessels and nerves, virtually any part of the body can be impacted by the disease. This can include your teeth and gums. However, the good news is that when you learn about what you’re up against, you can maintain good dental health!

Dental Problems Due to Diabetes

Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, managing your blood sugar level is very important. The higher your blood sugar level is, the more at risk you are for the following issues with your gums and teeth:

  • Cavities – You naturally have bacteria in your mouth. When you eat foods high in starch and sugars, they interact with the bacteria and it turns into plaque which is the sticky film you can sometimes feel on your teeth with your tongue. If left on the teeth too long, the acids in the plaque attack the surfaces of your teeth and can lead to cavities and gum disease.
  • Gingivitis – Because diabetes reduces your ability to fight bacteria, you could develop gingivitis, or early gum disease. The longer plague and tartar remain on your teeth, the more they will irritate the gums around the base of your teeth, known as gingiva. Over time, the irritation will cause your gums to swell and they will bleed more easily. Regularly brushing and flossing will remove the bacteria and will allow your mouth to be healthy.
  • Periodontitis – If gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to a more serious infection called periodontitis. This destroys the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth. This can cause your gums and jawbone to pull away from your teeth, which in turn means they will loosen and possible fall out. Periodontitis tends to be more of an issue with people who have diabetes because the disease lowers the ability to fight infection and slows the healing process.
  • Thrush – Thrush is often more common in people with diabetes. It is a fungal infection caused by the yeast Candida albicans. Signs of thrush include painful red or white patches on the inside of the mouth.
  • Dry Mouth – Also known as xerostomia, dry mouth occurs when there isn’t enough saliva in the mouth. Saliva is important because protects against gum disease, tooth decay, and other oral infections.

Proper Dental Care is Key

Diabetes can make a person more prone to the above problems. As a result, proper dental care is absolutely key in preventing these issues.

First and foremost is managing your diabetes by following all of your doctor’s instructions. The better you control your diabetes, the less likely you will develop gingivitis or other oral infections.

Second, brush and floss at least twice a day. If you can, brush your teeth after each meal. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and use toothpaste that has fluoride. An electric toothbrush can help you clean your teeth more effectively.

Third, don’t skip your dental appointments. Regular cleanings and checkups are important. If you have dental anxiety, The Dental Anesthesia Center is a state-of-the-art dental facility that caters to patients who require Oral Sedation, Deep Sedation, or General Anesthesia for their dental care.

Call Us Today

The only board-certified dental anesthesiologist in Missouri, including St. Louis.

Updated: May 31, 2024

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