Over 100 million Americans are now living with diabetes or prediabetes, a condition that tends to progress to full-blown diabetes given time. It can take a lot of effort to juggle the demands of this disease and other parts of a normal American life, so it’s not surprising that many diabetics have no idea that their smile can be severely impacted by their metabolic disease.
Diabetes and Gum Disease
There are several types of oral disease that play a role in the life of a diabetic. One of the most trying, however, is gum disease. You develop gum disease when bacteria living in your mouth find their way into small pockets around the base of your teeth. As their populations grow, the pockets are stretched out to allow for more bacteria. All of this causes your gums to become inflamed, resulting in early-stage gum disease.
The problem for diabetics is that an infection — even a low-level one like this — makes it more difficult to control their blood glucose. This, in turn, helps create an environment where the bacteria thrive. It’s kind of a self-feeding system.
Diabetics can battle this issue by seeing their dentist regularly, using special prescription mouthwash and maintaining good blood glucose despite their unwanted bacterial hitchhikers.
Other Oral Conditions and Diabetes
Of course, gum disease isn’t the only oral complication diabetics can develop. Unchecked blood glucose affects the entire body, and diabetes medications (both for maintaining blood glucose levels and for managing complications) can make patients more susceptible to various types of infections. Tell your dentist if you or your child is diabetic, or if you’re pregnant and currently are being treated for gestational diabetes.
These are conditions beyond gum disease that diabetes can impact:
- Tooth decay. The higher your blood glucose levels are, the more sugar that’s available for the bacteria living in your mouth to feed upon. It’s this feeding that results in plaque, and the plaque then attacks your teeth by increasing the acid in your mouth. It’s a complicated problem, but the solution is the very goal of most diabetic therapy: lowering blood glucose and maintaining levels as close to “normal” as possible.
- Dry mouth. One of the earliest symptoms of diabetes can be dry mouth. It can also be caused by medications that are used to treat diabetes. Unfortunately, the reduction in saliva that is the end result is terrible for your mouth, giving rise to all sorts of problems, from gum disease to tooth decay and even more complicated issues.
- Thrush. The high blood glucose that’s the primary symptom of diabetes also creates a great environment for fungal diseases. Thrush, caused by a yeast that’s common in the environment, appears as a white patch or white patches inside the mouth. Improving your oral hygiene can make a big difference in this department.
Diabetics! Schedule Your Regular Checkups Today
The best medicine for the mouths of diabetics is often a lot of prevention. We understand that you have other doctors that you have to see regularly, so we’ve done all we can to keep your appointments quick, running on-time and super easy to schedule.
The office of Drs. Krieger and Hur are ready and waiting to help you keep your mouth as healthy as possible. Call us at 201-560-0606 or send us an email by clicking here to schedule your next dental checkup.