How can Diabetes Impact my Oral Health?
Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease that causes irritation, swelling, and bleeding in your gums. This can lead to a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis. When you have gum disease, germs work to destroy your gums (gingiva) and the bone around your teeth. If you don’t clean plaque and tartar away, even gentle brushing can cause your gums to bleed. This is called gingivitis.
If your blood sugar levels are too high, you are more likely to develop serious gum disease. This is because you are more likely to get a bacterial infection and have a harder time fighting the bacteria in your gums. If nothing is done, the infection goes on to destroy the bone around your teeth and your teeth may start to move or become loose. When this happens, you may need surgery to save your teeth.
Like all infections, gum disease may be a factor in causing blood sugar to rise and may make diabetes harder to manage and make it harder for your body to fight the infection.
Another oral problem associated with diabetes is thrush. Thrush is an infection caused by fungus that grows in your mouth. To control thrush, keep managing your diabetes and if you smoke, quit. Call 1-800-Quit-Now/800-784-8669 for information on how to stop. If you wear dentures, remove and clean them daily.
You may notice that you have a dry mouth at times. This may be caused by medicines you take or by blood sugar levels that are high. A dry mouth can increase your risk of cavities because there is less saliva to wash away germs and take care of the acids they create. Dry mouth can also lead to other problems, such as salivary gland infections.
If you have dry mouth, try drinking more water, chewing sugar- free gum, or eating sugar-free candy to help keep the saliva flowing. Some people use saliva substitutes, available at drugstores. Managing your diabetes can also help you prevent or relieve dry mouth caused by diabetes.
Steps You Can Take to Avoid Oral Health Problems Include:
- Managing your blood sugar (also called blood glucose).
- Brushing and flossing properly to control plaque—a sticky film of food, saliva, and germs that forms on teeth and dentures.
- Seeing your dentist for regular check-ups. Your dentist will tell you how often check-ups are needed.
Visit diabetes.org or call 800-DIABETES (800-342-2383) for more resources from the American Diabetes Association.