Although you can limit your sugar intake, it's almost impossible to completely eliminate sugar from your diet. If you enjoy too much sugar, however, can this lead to diabetes? The answer is complicated, but diet and lifestyle can indeed result in this disease. Read on to learn more about diabetes, its effect on oral health, and what you can do to prevent and manage the condition.
What Is Diabetes?
According to the American Diabetes Association, carbohydrates (not sugar) increase blood glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes is directly related to being overweight – the biggest risk factor of diabetes – and obesity results from eating too many calories from any food source.
Don't confuse the two kinds of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a genetic disease where the body doesn't produce insulin. The more common Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset, occurs when the body doesn't use insulin properly, leading to insulin resistance. Even when the pancreas tries to increase production, it can't control blood sugar levels.
Diabetes and Your Mouth
What does this condition mean for oral health? It has long been recognised that a diet high in carbohydrates feeds cavity-forming germs in your mouth. These germs also form acids that break down the enamel and other tooth structures, resulting in cavities. But did you know that people with diabetes are at a higher risk for gum problems, including periodontitis and other disorders?
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, high blood glucose levels influence the severity of gum disease. There is more sugar in the saliva of a diabetic compared to the average healthy person. This sugar promotes the growth of germs, which then leads to plaque. Additionally, gum disease may make it more difficult to control blood sugar.
What should you do if you're diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes? Of course, follow your doctor's instructions on medications and lifestyle changes. Moreover, be sure to tell your dentist and oral hygienist about your diagnosis. They can use this information to recommend an oral hygiene routine and an appropriate schedule for check-ups.
Prevention and Management
According to the American Diabetes Association, there are many ways to manage or even avoid Type 2 diabetes. One of the most important steps is managing your weight by eating a balanced diet that includes foods with a low glycemic index (GI), such as lean meats, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. Avoiding foods with a high GI like sweets, snack foods and fizzy drinks is also recommended. It may take some effort, but these changes will help control your blood sugar and help to keep you and your family healthier.
What about your mouth? The three main ways to avoid gum problems are brushing, flossing and regular dental appointments. Your dentist may recommend seeing your oral hygienist more frequently for dental cleanings, perhaps three to four times a year. Your oral hygienist will evaluate your gums and overall oral health and provide tips for a healthy mouth, including brushing with the right toothpaste.
Can you get diabetes from eating too much sugar? The answer is "maybe", but why risk it? Leading a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, eating well, and regular medical and dental care may help you avoid the diagnosis. A healthy lifestyle translates to a healthy body, mouth and smile that will last a lifetime!