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How Diabetes Can Affect Your Oral Health

diabetes
by on February 11, 2016
Posted in Blog

Diabetes creates health concerns for the entire body, but many people fail to recognize the potential risks that it can present to oral health. You may be surprised to learn, then, that one out of every five occurrences of tooth loss can be attributed to diabetes, and the disease also increases the likelihood of dental disease. If you or a loved one suffer from diabetes, it’s very important that you understand the risks and take measures to counter them. To increase your awareness, we’ve assembled a list of the most common oral ailments linked to those with diabetes and have provided some tips for managing these complications.

Gum Disease

Those with diabetes experience a higher risk of developing gum disease. One of the earliest signs associated with gum disease is bleeding during the brushing or flossing process. Don’t ignore this symptom! Left untreated, gum disease may cause the bone supporting your teeth to break down and lead to tooth loss. Instead, take care to brush and floss two times each day, in addition to maintaining a healthy diet. Gum disease can worsen if blood sugar is too high or too low, so do your part to keep it under control.

Dry Mouth Syndrome 

Research has shown that diabetics tend to have less saliva than most non-sufferers. This leads to individuals feeling parched, or excessively thirsty. In addition to this, certain diabetic medications and high blood sugar levels can further contribute to dry mouth. The problem here is that saliva is a necessary component in removing sugar, leftover food, and other debris from the mouth. Without its help, you could develop more cavities. Counter the dry mouth problem by drinking plenty of water or chewing sugar-free gum and eating crunchy foods that promote saliva production.

Change in Taste

Another side affect of diabetes is that certain tastes may not seem as rich or flavorful as they once did. On the bright side, this creates opportunities for you to play around with different flavorings, textures, and spices to see what appeals to your palette and enhances your dining experience. It’s important, though, that you make sure to not add excessive amounts of sugar to your food in an attempt to add flavor. This will not only put you at risk for diabetic complications, but can lead to more cavities.

Oral Infections

As you know, diabetes affects the immune system, which leaves you much more prone to infection. A common problem for diabetics is a yeast infection known as oral thrush. Yeast tends to thrive on the higher volumes of sugar found in a diabetic’s saliva, and it will appear as a white layer that coats the insides of the cheeks and tongue. You’ll find that thrush leaves an unpleasant taste in your mouth. Be sure to talk to your dentist immediately if you think you may have thrush or another oral infection.

Slow Healing

If you have diabetes, you might notice that cold sores, canker sores, and cuts inside of your mouth don’t seem to go away for a long time. This may be related to poor control of blood sugar levels, as a lack of control can slow down the healing process. Talk to your dentist or doctor for¬†more information on oral sores that don’t seem to be healing as they should.

Although diabetes can present increased risks to your oral health, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to keep your mouth in tip-top shape. Being aware of the risks can help you to take action to prevent problems before they arise and to quickly address existing issues before they worsen. For more information on oral health, please contact the office of Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, today.

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