Most people with diabetes understand many of the ways the disease can affect their bodies, but some are unaware that high blood sugar can have a tremendous impact on oral health. At Bay Area Dental Specialists, we want patients with diabetes to understand how disease management can lead to a healthier mouth.
High blood sugar is the hallmark of diabetes. If your blood glucose (sugar) level is high, then there are likely high amounts of sugar in your saliva. That sugar feeds bacteria found in the sticky film (plaque) coating the teeth and leads to a higher incidence of tooth decay, cavities and gum disease in patients with diabetes. What’s more, high blood sugar weakens white blood cells in the blood, making it more difficult to fight off infections in the mouth and body.
Diabetes Increases Gum Disease Risk, and Gum Disease Worsens Blood Sugar Control
Gum (periodontal) disease is an infection that affects the oral tissues and bone that hold the teeth in place, and it leads to red, swollen, bleeding gums. Uncontrolled blood sugar spreads into the saliva, increasing gum disease risk and worsening existing gum disease. If left untreated, periodontal disease can cause tooth loss. People with gum disease and diabetes may develop more severe symptoms and take longer to heal from the infection. Gum disease can make it more challenging to control blood sugar levels with diet and medication.
Diabetes and Dry Mouth
Diabetes affects saliva production, as can some medications used for the disease. A healthy mouth relies on saliva to prevent disease and tooth decay by clearing away food debris to protect the teeth and gums. A dry mouth may cause ulcers, infections, tooth decay and soreness. Diabetes may also cause a fungal infection (thrush) with painful white patches in the mouth. People who smoke are even more likely to develop dry mouth.
Periodontal Treatment for Patients with Diabetes
Treating periodontal disease can improve diabetes management and vice versa. By scheduling regular visits to the dentist for professional cleanings, dental exams and X-rays, you can make sure your gums are improving. Patients with diabetes may require more frequent exams to ensure their oral health is getting better, along with disease management.
Reducing gum disease typically involves brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, flossing once a day and regular dental exams. Patients with diabetes should discuss their condition with their doctor and dentist to improve their overall health.
Seek Treatment in San Jose
Dr. Ashwini Bhave offers periodontal treatments to address gum disease at any stage. She can customize the treatment plan for patients with diabetes.