Your oral health can impact the rest of your body. What’s more, it can give you clues about other health conditions. If you struggle to maintain a healthy mouth, even with great oral hygiene practices, you may actually have other health concerns. Diabetes, for example, can cause a variety of dental issues. These can signal that you need to see your doctor to manage your illness more successfully.
Let’s take a closer look at how diabetes and oral health are related so that you know how and when to associate oral health problems with diabetes.
How Diabetes and Oral Health are Connected
Diabetes causes high blood sugar, which can negatively impact your vital organs and many other systems within your body. Over time, high blood sugar can have multiple health consequences, including your oral health.
You know that excess sugar in your mouth is bad for your teeth. With higher blood sugar, you consistently have a greater supply of sugar inside your mouth, giving the bacteria that feed on sugar more to eat. This causes the bacteria in your mouth to flourish, releasing even more of the acid that eats away at your enamel and causes tooth decay. The extra bacteria also irritates your gums, and that irritation can eventually progress to gum disease.
These problems often become more profound because diabetes makes it harder for you to heal and fight off infection. As a result, you may struggle to get your gum disease under control, which could eventually put you in danger of tissue, bone, and tooth loss. Even worse, gum disease may make it harder to control your blood sugar as well, causing a terrible cycle that makes it challenging to get your overall health back on track.
Oral Health Problems with Diabetes: What to Expect
Diabetes can be well controlled with diet, exercise, and medication. However, if your diabetes is not managed properly, you can experience the following oral health symptoms:
- Dry mouth
- Increased risk of tooth decay
- Increased risk of gingivitis
- Delayed wound healing
- Increased risk of infection inside the mouth
- Thrush (a fungal yeast infection)
Without consistently good oral hygiene habits and proper management of your disease, your dental health problems will get worse. As the conditions in your mouth worsen, so will your diabetes symptoms. To help you protect both your diabetes and dental health, it is essential that you learn how to properly manage your blood sugar. From there, practicing excellent oral care can help keep your overall wellness on track.
Diabetes and Oral Health: The Role of Oral Hygiene
Because diabetes makes you more prone to tooth decay, gum disease, dry mouth, and more, excellent oral hygiene habits are critical. Make sure you brush twice a day every day with a clean, fresh toothbrush using a toothpaste recommended by your dentist. Be vigilant about flossing once per day as well to remove plaque from between your teeth and under the gum line. Your dentist may also suggest that you use a rinse to help control bacterial growth.
It is also important that you see your dentist regularly—at least every six months. Make sure your dental team is aware that you have diabetes so that they can provide the best-informed care. Tell your dentist if you’re experiencing any oral health problems with diabetes—including signs of gum tenderness or swelling, sores in the mouth, loose teeth or pain—as soon as possible. This will help your dentist treat these problems quickly and correctly before they worsen.
Taking Control of Your Diabetes and Dental Health
While it’s not uncommon to have oral health problems with diabetes, you can take control of both your diabetes and oral health by making sure that you manage your whole body health carefully. Every system in our body is connected, and when one system is unwell, it usually doesn’t take long before it impacts the rest of the body. Conversely, when you take care of your body, it benefits all of your body’s systems.
As renowned dental expert, dentist, and dad Dr. Kami Hoss can tell you after 20 years of research, each aspect of our health affects the next. When you take care of your oral health, you’re also keeping the rest of your body healthier both now and in the future. To find out more about this mouth-body connection, reserve your copy of Dr. Hoss’s book, If Your Mouth Could Talk, today.