The rates of diabetes in the U.S. are increasing at an alarming rate, affecting almost 26 million Americans today. Diet, exercise and other preventative care are crucial to lowering your level of risk, but did you know your oral health is closely linked to diabetes as well?
How diabetes affects your mouth
Current research shows that severe gum disease can lead to diabetes, but diabetes can also lead to severe gum disease. Left untreated and unmanaged, gum disease may cause teeth to move or fall out entirely. Teeth that don’t fall out may even need to be pulled to keep the infection from spreading.
Diabetes creates high or poorly controlled blood glucose levels. This creates a breeding ground for bacteria in your mouth, which causes serious oral problems including gum disease. High blood sugar levels can also increase plaque formation on your teeth, and without adequate brushing or flossing, your enamel will erode over time and your teeth will be more susceptible to cavities.
Poorly controlled diabetes can also result in decreased bloodflow to injured areas, which can limit your ability to heal after oral surgery and other major dental procedures. This leaves your mouth more vulnerable to major oral infection.
Diabetes has also been linked to issues like soreness, ulcers, dry mouth and the formation of a fungus called thrush on the tongue.
How to prevent diabetes from damaging oral health
People with diabetes should maintain good oral practices, like brushing and flossing, and should also schedule dental check-ups every six months to monitor oral health. They should also keep strict control over their blood glucose levels. Individuals with well-controlled blood glucose levels are less likely to experience many of these severe oral issues. It’s also important for individuals without diabetes to maintain best oral practices, since poor oral health can also lead to diabetes.