Does Diabetes Affect Oral Health?

How To Keep Your Teeth Healthy If You Have Diabetes

About 30% of Canadians live with diabetes or pre-diabetes. While the regular symptoms and complications of diabetes are well known, you might not be aware of how much diabetes can affect your oral health.

High blood sugar can lead to less healthy gums and dental problems. However, there are ways to manage your diabetes and oral health so that your mouth can be in tip-top shape.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about diabetes and oral health.

What Is Diabetes

Before answering that question, you should know that there are two types of diabetes.

Both stop the production of the insulin hormone being produced in your pancreas. Insulin transports the sugar from the food you eat into muscles and to other areas of your body. Without insulin, this sugar stays in your blood, leading to serious health complications.

While it is not conclusively known what causes type 1 diabetes, it is believed that there is a genetic component that is possibly triggered by a viral infection. This type relies on taking insulin via injection.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by lifestyle. Eating foods too high in sugar can cause your pancreas to go into overload. This results in insulin production being shut down. Type 2 is generally treated with tablets.

How Can Diabetes Affect Your Teeth?

Diabetes can cause many changes within the body, including in your teeth and gums. To ensure you know the signs and symptoms of oral changes, you should be aware of how diabetes can affect your mouth.

Sugary Saliva

Sugary saliva is exactly what it sounds like. You may notice a sweet taste in your mouth that can sometimes be sickly. Those close to you may comment that your breath smells sweet.

While sweet-scented breath may sound like a plus, it’s not a good sign for those suffering from diabetes. It can be an indication that your blood sugar is too high, or has been high for a prolonged period.

This sugary saliva is also bad news for your teeth. With more sugar in your saliva, bacteria can grow and attack your teeth’s enamel. This can lead to serious damage to your teeth or your gums.

If you are a diabetic and you have a consistently sweet taste in your mouth, be sure to inform your doctor immediately.

More Prone To Infections – Gum Disease

High blood sugar, which is caused by diabetes, affects the blood vessels in your body. The sugar that stays in your blood because of a lack of insulin can cause blood vessels to thicken. This reduces the number of nutrients getting to vital areas of your body, including your gums.

Because of this, diabetics are more prone to gum disease. The gums may become weakened and experience higher levels of infection that your body struggles to fight off. This can eventually lead to gum disease.

Blood Sugar Level And Oral Health

Your blood sugar levels can affect your oral health. Your blood fuels your body, providing oxygen, vitamins, and nutrients to every part of it. When it is not as healthy as it could be, your body suffers. This includes what happens in your mouth.

Tooth Decay

If your blood sugar levels are consistently high or generally poorly controlled, you will be at a higher risk of tooth decay.

The sugars and carbohydrates in your food affect the kinds of bacteria that reside in your mouth. When this sugar can’t be regulated with insulin, plaque can begin to form on your teeth.

You’ve probably seen plaque on your teeth before but may not know what it is. It’s a white film that often begins at the base of your tooth where it meets the gum. During a dental cleaning, your dentist will remove this from your teeth.

Plaque damages the surface of your teeth, leading to weaker enamel and more cavities. When your blood sugar is high, the supply of sugar to your mouth will increase, which means there is a higher chance you could develop plaque.

Fungal Infections

One very common symptom of diabetes is thrush. This is because diabetes weakens your immune system. Your body can’t fight off infection as quickly as a healthy body, increasing your risk of oral thrush.

Oral thrush can find a breeding ground on the extra sugar that is present in a diabetic mouth. You can recognize oral thrush from symptoms like white patches on your tongue and bleeding inside the mouth.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is very common in diabetics, especially after waking up in the morning. This is generally because people with high blood sugar often suffer from dehydration.

Diabetes and high blood sugar make your kidneys try to rid your body of sugar by peeing more often. This causes you to become dehydrated. The water your body does hold on to goes to organs that need it more, and your mouth could suffer.

Prevention and Care

Despite all the ways diabetes can affect oral health, there are ways to manage it. Not all diabetics suffer from the conditions listed above, so if you’re a diabetic who worries about your oral health, follow the directions below to take care of your mouth.

Manage Diabetes

The absolute top way to manage your oral health as a diabetic is to keep your diabetes in check. Taking the right dose of insulin for the food you eat will help to stabilize your blood sugar.

Better blood sugar means better oral health. Those with the best diabetes care often have no oral health problems at all beyond what someone without diabetes would have.

Keeping in close contact with your doctor can also help manage your diabetes. Diabetes and oral health go hand in hand, and our doctor will be able to give you the best guidance.

Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is the best way to control your blood sugar levels. And increased blood sugar level control will mean better oral care.

Stick to foods that are high in fiber and protein and low in fast sugar. Slower carbohydrates, such as brown rice and bananas, are also great for regulating blood sugar.

Oral Hygiene

Brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, and drinking plenty of water will all help to rid you of oral health problems.

You’ll find that diabetic oral care is similar to that of a non-diabetic. Simply look after your teeth and gums and keep an eye out for changes in your mouth.

Go To The Dentist

Of course, you should be going to the dentist in general. But, with the increased risks caused by high blood sugar, you should have more regular checkups.

Your dentist will be able to spot any serious changes in your mouth before they develop. They can guide you on how to avoid dental problems and look after your diabetes.

Your Oral Health Should Be a Top Priority if You’re a Diabetic

Diabetes and oral health have a complicated relationship. But that doesn’t mean your mouth has to suffer if you have diabetes.

Regular checkups, taking care of your oral hygiene, and managing high blood sugar will all help to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

For more information on how your dentist can help manage your diabetes, have a look at this page. There’s plenty of information to go through, so you can reach out to a team of experts if you’d like to know more.