Diabetes is a metabolic condition in which the body’s inability to produce an adequate amount of insulin causes elevated levels of glucose in the blood. Too much glucose, colloquially known as sugar, in the blood from diabetes can cause significant oral health issues. Glucose is present in saliva, which is the fluid naturally produced inside the mouth to keep it wet. If diabetes is not controlled, high glucose levels in the saliva promote the production of bacteria.
Bacteria are naturally present inside the mouth, and when they combine with the foods and beverages that you consume they create plaque that forms on the surfaces of the teeth. This sticky film is most dangerous when it is promoted from the sugars and starches in your diet. The bacteria inside the mouth congregate in large numbers around sugar, causing an increased buildup of plaque, which leads to cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. Gum disease is often more severe and takes longer to heal for those with diabetes. In turn, having gum disease can make your blood glucose hard to control.
When the gums become red, tender, swollen, and bleed easily they have become infected with gingivitis. If gingivitis is not treated early on, it will advance to gum disease caused periodontitis. Periodontitis is severe gum disease in which the gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets which become infected. The body fights the bacteria as plaque spreads and grows below the gum line, where the jawbone and dental tissues that hold the teeth in place are compromised. Because high glucose levels promote the production of bacteria and increase their negative effects, those with diabetes are more susceptible to gum disease.
Those with diabetes can combat gum disease by:
- Flossing daily
- Brushing frequently with a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Replacing your toothbrush every three months
- Drinking fluorinated water and using a fluoride mouthwash
- Limit sugar in your diet
Group Health Dental is here for all of your dental needs. If you notice any symptoms of oral health problems, please call us right away so that we can see you as soon as possible for evaluation and any necessary treatment.