Diabetes can affect a lot of organs and systems in your body, I’m sure you know that. The nervous system, your kidneys and liver, your heart, even your immune system. But do you know the effects of diabetes on your mouth?
If your diabetes is left untreated, it can take a huge toll on your mouth.
- You may have less saliva, causing your mouth to feel dry.
- The absence of saliva puts you at a higher risk of tooth decay (cavities).
- Gums may become inflamed and bleed often (gingivitis).
- Problems tasting food.
- Delayed wound healing.
- Susceptible to infections inside of your mouth.
- For children with diabetes, teeth may erupt at an earlier age than is typical.
Tooth decay (cavities) occurs when you ingest starchy and sugary foods and drinks. They interact with the bacteria in your mouth and create a sticky film known as plaque on your teeth. The acids in plaque attack the surfaces of your teeth (enamel and dentin) making it easier for bacteria to get within your teeth. This can lead to gum disease.
Early gum disease (gingivitis) occurs when plaque is not removed by brushing and flossing enough. The plaque hardens under your gumline into tartar (dental calculus). The longer the plaque and tartar remains on your teeth, the more they irritate the gums around the base of your teeth, called gingiva. In time, your gums become swollen and bleed easily.
Advanced gum disease (periodontitis) is when untreated gingivitis becomes worse and causes a more serious infection. Periodontitis destroys the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth. Eventually causing your gums and jawbone to pull away from your teeth, which causes your teeth to loosen and possibly fall out.
Periodontal disease is a chronic, inflammatory disease that can destroy your gums, all the tissue holding your teeth, and even your bones. It is the most common dental disease affecting those living with diabetes. People with diabetes are at a higher risk for gum problems because of poor blood sugar control. Serious gum disease may cause blood sugar to rise. This makes diabetes harder to control and makes you more susceptible to infections and are less able to fight the bacteria invading the gums.
To avoid gum disease, get on a Dental Health Action Plan. This includes:
- Controlling your blood sugar levels. Change to a healthier diet, exercise more, and brush your teeth. Good blood sugar control will help your body fight any bacterial and fungal infections in your mouth and help relieve dry mouth caused by diabetes.
- Avoid smoking.
- If you wear any type of denture, clean it each day.
- Make sure to brush twice a day with a soft brush and floss daily.
- See your dentist for regular checkups.
Diabetes lowers the body’s ability to fight infection and slows the healing process making periodontitis a larger and dangerous possibility for diabetics.