About 20 percent of total tooth loss cases are linked to diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. This common metabolic disease affects the entire body, including the mouth and teeth. If you’re among the 463 million Americans living with diabetes, keeping blood sugar in check, following your physician’s recommendations, and keeping up with regular dental visits will help you maintain good oral and overall health.
Here are five ways diabetes can impact your teeth and gums:
Gum Disease and High Blood Sugar Levels
Research suggests that if your blood sugar isn’t under control, it can worsen periodontal (gum) disease. Severe gum disease can break down the bone that supports your teeth and lead to tooth loss, One early warning sign of potential periodontal disease is bleeding while you brush or floss. At this stage, the condition can be treated and even reversed by maintaining proper oral hygiene, following a regular dental exam schedule, and eating a balanced diet.
Mouth Infections and Diabetes
Diabetes affects your immune system and can make you prone to mouth infections. Oral thrush, or candidiasis, is an overgrowth of normal mouth bacteria and is not uncommon among diabetics. It resembles a white film on the tongue and inside of the cheeks, and is a reaction to the yeast thriving on high sugar levels in saliva. Oral thrush can be treated with antifungal medications.
Slow Healing and Diabetes
Diabetes can slow the healing process of sores, cuts, and injuries in your mouth. Poor blood sugar control prevents sores from healing quickly and properly. Be sure to see our periodontist if a sore in your mouth is not healing properly.
Diabetes and Dry Mouth
According to studies, many people with diabetes make less saliva. Symptoms may include a dry tongue, cracked lips, and constantly feeling thirsty. Some medications and higher blood sugar levels contribute to dry mouth. You can treat this by carefully managing your sugar levels, drinking plenty of water, and eating healthy, crunchy foods to get your saliva flowing.
Altered Sense of Taste
Diabetes can change the way you process flavors; some foods may seem blander than they used to. Consider this an opportunity to explore new cuisines, spices, herbs, and textures. However, be cautious about adding sugar to your food, as it could negatively affect your condition.
If you are among the 10.5 percent of Americans living with diabetes and want more information on how it impacts your gum health, call our periodontal office in Alexandria, VA. We are happy to answer your questions.