How Diabetes Affects Your Smile

Blood sugar

Over 29 million Americans are affected with either Type I or Type II diabetes. If you are diabetic, you are probably familiar with a whole host of medical issues that can affect you. Circulation problems, higher risk of infection, risk of damage to the eyes, the list goes on and on. 1 in 5 cases of tooth loss is linked to diabetes, so it’s important to manage your oral health. Today, your Austin, MN dentist discusses some of the ways this health condition affects your smile.

High Blood Sugar Creates a Bacterial Playground

Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, can cause damage to the body in numerous ways. The chief concern for your teeth is that when glucose levels increase in the blood, it also increases in the saliva. Your body tries to rid the body of excess sugar within the bloodstream, so it binds it to the body’s secreted fluids.

Naturally, this creates an environment that is not dissimilar to drinking soda or eating sweets. The bacteria in the mouth feast upon the glucose within the saliva itself. That means that bacterial growth is not localized to where food particles exist. The entire mouth becomes a bacterial target.

Of course, this bacterial growth leads to cavities, and so diabetics are particularly susceptible to tooth decay. 

Dry Mouth Is Common

Hyperglycemia causes the body to rapidly expel water content, in order to pack with the body’s excess sugar. The primary avenue for this is through the urine. Often, this leads to dehydration and dry mouth. The mouth relies upon the antibacterial qualities of saliva to protect the teeth from tooth decay.

With diabetes, in addition to higher glucose within the saliva, the teeth are more likely to be exposed, unprotected, to bacterial growth.

Dry mouth can also lead to gum recession and periodontal disease. The gums are the chief protectors of the teeth, covering the root. When the root is exposed, tooth loss becomes much more likely than with healthy gums, and can cause pain. Bacterial growth happens within the tooth itself.

If you have diabetes, you’re also less likely to heal as quickly as a healthy person. Of particular concern is thrush. This may appear as white or red splotches within the mouth. Fungal infections are also much more common.

Both of these infections can create sores in the mouth, and coupled with your delayed healing response, can become dangerous for your oral health.

What Should You Do?

As a diabetic, you need to take particular care of your teeth for these reasons. Maintaining appropriate glucose levels is your chief concern, and not only for your oral health, but overall. Your ability to fight infections, both bacterial and fungal, is greatly restored by having an appropriate blood sugar.

Smoking is terrible for the teeth even for the fully healthy, but especially for diabetics, cessation is key. In addition to these, regular dental exams and cleanings are paramount.

Have Further Questions?

If you have questions or concerns, feel free to give us a call. To schedule an appointment with your Austin, MN dentist, call (507)437-6312.