Diabetes and Dental Problems

If you have diabetes, blood sugar shouldn't be your only concern. The foods you eat can also affect the health of your gums and teeth. Diligent oral hygiene and regular dentist visits can keep these problems from developing, so it's important to know what the main causes and issues are. Let's take a look at some key connections between diabetes and dental problems.

How Does Diabetes Cause Dental Problems?

The main characteristic of diabetes is the body's inability to properly process sugars. This leads to a wide range of side effects, many of which require close attention. According to the National Institutes of Health, diabetics are at a greater risk for developing gum disease and tooth decay because high glucose levels in saliva can contribute to the build-up of plaque. For a diabetic, gum disease can be more common and severe, and often take longer to heal. And gum disease can even make your glucose levels harder to control. Be mindful of tooth decay and gum disease; both of these can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.

Dental Problems Facing Diabetics

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are other dental issues that are much more common among diabetics. Common ailments include:

  • Periodontal disease
  • Dry mouth
  • Bad breath

Diabetes can increase the likelihood of dry mouth, making you a prime candidate for bad breath. Dry mouth can cause ulcers and infections in your mouth, as well as cavities in your teeth. Diabetics are also more susceptible to gum disease such as gingivitis because of a decreased ability to fight off bacteria in the mouth. And the American Diabetes Association states that serious gum disease can actually affect the ability of diabetics to control blood glucose levels, which makes managing the disease difficult. Serious gum disease can also lead to tooth decay and loss.

Preventing Dental Problems as a Diabetic

As a diabetic, few things are more important than a stable blood sugar level. Stick to your diet, take your insulin and related medication, check your blood sugar and follow all your doctor's recommendations. Working from a foundation of good overall health makes it that much easier to do the same for your mouth.

And, of course, daily dental care is very important for a healthy mouth. Toothpastes such as Colgate TotalSF Advanced Fresh + Whitening help prevent plaque and tartar build-up, as well as gingivitis and bad breath. Brushing at least twice a day and flossing regularly are paramount, but if you're not sure you're using the most effective techniques, talk to your dentist.

Living with diabetes can be difficult, but keeping your blood sugar levels stable and practicing good oral care can help you manage your condition and prevent common dental issues.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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