Diabetes & Oral Health

November is National Diabetes Month and with 1.5 million Americans diagnosed each year, sufferers may not realize that they should talk with their dentist as part of their treatment plan.

Why Does Diabetes Affect Your Mouth?

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not respond properly to insulin, causing blood sugar levels to become too high. When this happens, the body begins to lose fluid and all parts of the body may be affected. Those with the disease may notice dry skin, dry mouth and extreme thirst.

When the mouth becomes too dry due to low saliva, a soft, sticky film of bacteria called plaque builds up, eventually causing periodontal disease, a bacterial infection of the gums. In fact, studies have shown that people with diabetes are three to four times more likely to develop gum disease, due to poor blood sugar control.

Another concern with low salivary flow is tooth decay. Saliva helps to keep bacteria from sticking to our teeth. With dry mouth, bacteria can stick and cause decay.

Oral Symptoms of Untreated Diabetes

If left untreated, diabetes will wreak havoc on your mouth. Here are some symptoms you may notice:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Dry Mouth
  • Cavities Due to Low Saliva
  • Mouth Infections
  • Difficulty Recovering from Oral Surgery
  • Bleeding and/or Tender Gums

The Cycle of Gum Disease and Diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association, emerging research suggests that there is a two-way link between diabetes and gum disease. Those with diabetes are generally more susceptible to infection, and as blood sugar levels become out of control, there is a greater likelihood of serious gum disease (periodontitis). As with all infections, periodontitis may cause blood sugar levels to rise, making it even more difficult to control your diabetes, and the disease may progress more rapidly. However, proper treatment of gum disease may result in improved blood sugar levels.

How Caffaratti Dental Group Can Help Fight Your Diabetes

Because diabetes and other diseases affect oral health, it is always important to share your medical history with your dental care provider. The doctors at Caffaratti Dental Group are prepared to help you manage your diabetes through proper dental care. If you are experiencing the early stages of gum disease, treatment may involve removing plaque from the pockets around your teeth. If the periodontitis is severe, your dentist may suggest more frequent cleanings involving scaling and root planing.

Help manage your own oral health with these steps:

  • Control blood sugar in an effort to prevent diabetes symptoms like dry mouth that can lead to gum disease
  • Schedule regular six-month dental visits for deep cleanings to remove bacteria
  • Brush and floss twice daily to remove bacteria-filled plaque that leads to gum disease
  • Remove and clean dentures daily to prevent bacterial and fungal infections
  • Keep blood sugar in check prior to any oral surgeries in order to promote healing and ward off infections
  • Benefit from teeth cleanings every 3 to 4 months if your blood sugar levels are difficult to maintain

Let us help slow the progression of your diabetes! Call (775) 358-1555 to make an appointment today.