How does diabetes affect your oral health?
There are of 29 million people in the United States that are living with diabetes, and an estimated 8 million more that have it and do not know it. Both type 1 and type 2 result in high blood sugar, which can affect the eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other parts of the body. But it is also important to understand the role diabetes can have on your oral health.
If left untreated, diabetes may take a toll on your mouth. Here are a few ways it may affect you:
- You have less saliva, causing dry mouth.
- Saliva protects your teeth and helps to prevent decay. Lack of adequate saliva makes you vulnerable to cavities.
- Your gums may become inflamed and bleed more than usual. This is called gingivitis.
- You may experience problems tasting food.
- There may be delayed wound healing. If you have an ulceration or trauma to your gums, it may take longer to heal than usual.
- You could become more susceptible to infections inside your mouth (viral, bacterial, or fungal).
- For children with diabetes, there is a chance the teeth may erupt earlier than usual.
It is believed that 1 in 5 cases of total tooth loss are related to diabetes. The best way to fight back is to maintain regular dental visits and come up with an action plan with your dentist. It may include:
- More frequent visits than every 6 months
- Using prescription strength toothpaste
- More diligent homecare
- Using new or different tools to keep your teeth and gums clean.
Even though there are ways for us to help maintain good oral health, your physician will remain the first line of defense against diabetes. Continue to use the necessary medications, eat healthier, and stay active.