Diabetes and Oral Health
November is American Diabetes Month. Did you know that diabetes can increase your risk of dental disease and other symptoms that show up in your mouth? One in five cases of total tooth loss is linked to diabetes, according to the Journal of the American Dental Association.
How does diabetes affect your oral health? Gum disease affects 22 percent of diabetics. According to MouthHealthy, patient website for the American Dental Association, people with diabetes are at a higher risk for gum problems because of poor blood sugar control. Have you ever noticed a cold sore or a cut in your mouth that doesn’t quite seem to go away? Poor control of blood sugar can keep injuries from healing quickly and properly.
Studies show that some people with diabetes have less saliva, so you might find yourself feeling parched or extra thirsty. Fight dry mouth by drinking water. You can also chew sugarless gum and eat healthy, crunchy foods to get saliva flowing. This is especially important because extra sugar in your saliva, combined with less saliva to wash away leftover food, can lead to cavities.
Diabetes also affects your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to infection. One common issue among people with diabetes is a yeast infection called oral thrush. The yeast thrive on the higher amount of sugar found in your saliva, and it looks like a white layer coating your tongue and the insides of your cheeks. Thrush is more common in people who wear dentures and can often leave a bad taste in your mouth.
The good news is you can take charge of your health today. Controlling your blood sugar, brushing, flossing and visiting your dentist regularly can go a long way to help decrease the likelihood of developing these diabetes-related mouth issues.
For more information, visit MouthHealthy.org.