If you have diabetes, you're at a greater risk of developing oral health problems when compared to those without diabetes. Learn more about the connection between diabetes and oral health.
Is diabetes bad for teeth?
Yes. Diabetes increases your risk of developing periodontal disease and other oral health problems.
What is periodontal disease?
Poor oral health can lead to periodontal disease. When plaque isn't removed from teeth, the bacteria within plaque can infect the gums. The gums may pull away from the teeth. The result is periodontitis.
If not treated, periodontitis can cause the supporting bone to break, causing loose teeth.
If you have diabetes and your glucose levels aren't monitored well, there's a chance you may develop periodontal disease.
What are the symptoms of periodontal disease?
Make an appointment with your dentist if you notice one or more of these symptoms:
- Your gums easily bleed when you brush or floss
- You notice red, swollen or tender gums
- The gums have pulled away from your teeth (receding gums)
- You have persistent bad breath or a continual bad taste in your mouth
- You have a loose tooth or loose teeth
- There's a change in your bite (the way your teeth fit together)
- There's a change in the way your partial dentures fit
How does diabetes affect my oral health?
If you have diabetes, the health condition can lower your resistance to infections. So, you may be prone to developing an oral infection such as periodontal disease.
Oral bacteria in a person with diabetes are no different than the bacteria in a non-diabetic person’s mouth. The difference is the inflammatory response. If you have diabetes, you may have an increased inflammatory response to bacteria.
This can mean the loss of supporting tissue that surrounds the teeth. If a tooth becomes loose, it may have to be removed.
More frequent dental hygiene visits may be indicated to help monitor your oral health status and minimize the impact your diabetes can have on your overall dental health. If your oral health is well maintained, this helps control your diabetes (blood sugars) and if your diabetes is well controlled, this helps your periodontal health.
What can a person with diabetes do to protect their oral health?
There are a number of methods a person with diabetes can do to protect their oral health, including:
- Practice good oral care (brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day)
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Controlling blood sugar levels can help reduce the risk of infection
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year for a checkup and a professional cleaning
- If you wear dentures, clean them daily
- If you smoke, decide to quit. Smoking will increase the chance of developing an oral infection
Tell your dentist if you have diabetes and if you’ve been reaching your targets. This will affect how you respond to dental treatments.
Also, let them know about any diabetes medications you are taking. Your dentist will create a personalized oral care plan to help you keep your teeth and gums healthy.
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