The American Diabetes Association established November as Diabetes Awareness Month in 1975, and today we use this month as an opportunity to inform the public about diabetes signs, symptoms, and prevention. In the dental community, we have a unique perspective on diabetes because of the specific effects it has on our patients’ oral health. Today, the team at ZDental, practitioners of family dentistry in Bensalem, PA, would like to tell you more about the relationship between diabetes and oral health issues.
How Does Diabetes Affect the Body?
Simply put, diabetes is a condition that prevents the body from processing sugar correctly, leading to a buildup of glucose sugar in the bloodstream. Over time, these elevated glucose levels can damage the organs. Damage to the blood vessels puts additional stress on the heart and causes circulation problems that negatively impact every system in the body including the eyes, kidneys, nerves, lower extremities, and even the gums.
Which Oral Health Issues are Caused by Diabetes?
If you have diabetes or you are prediabetic, talk to your dentist and keep an eye out for any of the following symptoms that could be related:
- Gum Disease – Your gums need a healthy blood supply for optimal function, and diabetes can deprive them of that. If you notice excessive bleeding during brushing or flossing, or that your gums are receding, it could be a sign of developing gum disease. Left untreated, this could lead to tooth loss and other issues.
- Dry Mouth – Diabetes can impair your ability to produce saliva, making you feel thirsty and parched. Drinking extra water can help, but it’s only a temporary solution. It’s important to speak with your doctor about the underlying causes of dry mouth and address them before your condition progresses.
- Changes in Taste – Living with diabetes can cause you to partially or fully lose your sense of taste. If you are experiencing this symptom, it could be a sign that your diabetes is progressing and that medical intervention is needed.
- Infections in the Mouth – Because diabetes affects the immune system, it can mean you have a harder time keeping bacteria and fungi in your mouth under control. One common symptom is an overgrowth of the candida fungus, a condition known as thrush. If you have thrush, it’s a good idea to see a doctor as soon as possible.
- Difficulty Healing – When you have diabetes, wounds can take much longer to heal. This can mean cuts and sores in your mouth won’t heal properly. This can lead to infection and other issues, so it’s crucial to address the underlying problem instead of just treating the symptoms
While diabetes is the leading cause of a host of nasty conditions, making lifestyle changes can help you keep it in check. Be sure to speak with your doctor about changes you can make like diet, exercise, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol intake that can get your blood sugar under control and prevent further organ damage. You can live a long, healthy life with diabetes, but the sooner you start addressing your issues, the better chance you have of avoiding the worst symptoms. Your doctor and dentist are a big part of that, so get in touch with ZDental if you are searching for the best dentist in Philadelphia. Our team will be happy to answer any questions you have about diabetes and your oral health.