Diabetes is a disease that reduces your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, and it affects more than 30 million Americans – that’s nearly 10% of the population!  At ZDental, we know that many of our patients are living with diabetes, and whether it’s Type I or Type II diabetes, we also know that it can cause a number of oral health issues.  Today, we want to remind our readers that November is National Diabetes Month by giving you some information about the connection between diabetes and oral health.  Here are a few of the oral health issues that are often associated with diabetes, and what you can do to prevent them.

Oral Health Issues Associated with Diabetes

  • Dry Mouth – Diabetes, especially when it’s not well-controlled, is known to reduce the production of saliva. Having a healthy flow of saliva is crucial to proper digestion and a chronically dry mouth can also lead to ulcers, infections, and tooth decay.
  • Gingivitis and Periodontitis – By reducing your body’s ability to fight infection, diabetes can lead to a buildup of bacteria around the gums. If those bacteria aren’t removed, they can turn into tartar around the gum line, irritating the gums and eventually leading to gum disease.
  • Tooth Decay – When you have diabetes, the amount of sugar in your saliva can become elevated. The bacteria in your mouth feed off this excess sugar, creating plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth.  Over time, the acids produced by these bacteria can eat away at tooth enamel, and if it’s left unchecked, you could end up losing your teeth.
  • Thrush – High sugar levels in the mouth combined with a decreased healing factor can lead to a buildup of candida fungus in the mouth. When candida growth gets out of control in the mouth, it’s known as thrush and it’s characterized by painful red or white lesions on the tongue and inside the cheeks.

How to Prevent Diabetes-related Oral Health Problems

As you can see, the oral health issues associated with diabetes aren’t pleasant, but if you’re living with diabetes, there are some steps you can take to avoid them.  The first thing you need to do, if you haven’t already, is talk to a doctor about getting your diabetes under control.  Uncontrolled diabetes increases the likelihood of developing all the oral health problems listed above, so controlling your blood sugar should be your first priority.

Second, do everything you can to look after your oral health.  Diabetes may mean you have more bacteria in your mouth, but as long as you keep them in check, you’ll avoid the most serious consequences.  Brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and schedule a dental visit every six months.  Let your dentist in Bensalem, PA know that you have diabetes so they’ll know to keep an eye out for the early stages of gum diseases and other common oral health issues seen in those living with diabetes.  One more thing: if you smoke, quit right away!  You probably already know about the damage smoking can do to your teeth and gums, and those problems are only magnified when you have diabetes.

If you are living with diabetes, it’s absolutely crucial that you take special care to keep your teeth and mouth clean.  The information listed above is a good start, but be sure to talk to your dentist about your diabetes and the oral health risks associated with it.  Residents of Pennsylvania and New Jersey can feel free to schedule an appointment at any of ZDental’s five locations; just visit our contact page to find the one closest to you.  This National Diabetes Month, we hope you’ll take some time to think about your oral health and take all the necessary steps to ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy, whether you have diabetes or not.