Diabetes is such a prevalent problem in the United States that nearly everyone knows someone who struggles to manage the symptoms of the disease. They are also aware that diabetes affects the whole body and can lead to such conditions as coronary heart disease, retinal damage, kidney damage, blood circulation, and nerve damage, just to name a few. What few people know, however, is that diabetes can also affect your teeth. At Baldwinsville Gentle Dentistry, we believe that the path to good health begins with education, so in that spirit, we offer the following information about how diabetes can affect your gorgeous grin.
Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. This results in the high sugar levels that eventually wreak havoc in the body. As far as your mouth is concerned, this includes:
Tooth Decay — When too much glucose is present in your blood, it is also present in your saliva. The excessive sugars feed plaque, making diabetics more susceptible to cavities. To minimize their chances of tooth decay, it is paramount for diabetics to brush after every meal and floss daily.
Gum Disease — When plaque is not removed, it hardens into tartar. This substance gradually infects the gums and leads to gum disease. What’s worse is that, as with any infection, gum disease can make it difficult to control glucose levels, trapping the person with diabetes in a vicious cycle; glucose stays high, making it more difficult to recover from disease, keeping glucose levels high. According to the American Dental Association, one in five cases of total tooth loss is directly linked to diabetes. To keep gums healthy and teeth in place, brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits (sometimes more than every six months) are essential.
Thrush — This is a particular concern for those who wear dentures. Also known as candidiasis, thrush occurs when a naturally occurring fungus grows out of control. What begins as uncomfortable white or red patches on the tongue, gums, cheeks, and roof of the mouth can develop into open sores. To prevent thrush, dentures must be cleaned daily.
If you’re concerned that you may have already experienced diabetes-related dental problems, be sure to call your physician and your dentist as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Whatever the condition of your health, we’d love to be part of your healthcare team. Contact our office to schedule an appointment. We proudly serve patients in Baldwinsville, Syracuse, and the surrounding communities.