Diabetes and Dental Health: What You Need to Know to Stay Healthy

Both type I and type II diabetes have a wide range of symptoms and complications that can affect your cardiovascular health, digestive health, and even your skin and eyes. One part of the body that is often overlooked in people with diabetes is dental health. Our dentist in Fuquay Varina is sharing how diabetes can affect your dental health and how you can prevent serious damage to your teeth and gums.

Diabetes Increases Risk of Gum Disease

Diabetes weakens the immune system and can impair your body’s ability to fight off bacteria. As bacteria from plaque attacks your gums, you may notice the beginning signs of gingivitis, including swelling, inflammation, and even bleeding when you floss and brush. While gum disease can be reversed with proper care, having diabetes means you need to be especially diligent to prevent the condition from worsening.

When gum disease worsens, it develops into periodontitis, which can cause your gums to recede and increase your risk of tooth loss and infection.

Dry Mouth and Burning Mouth Syndrome

One of the most common symptoms of diabetes is thirst or dry mouth. Not only is this uncomfortable, but a lack of saliva can actually increase your risk of cavities. Saliva keeps your teeth rinsed of particles and dangerous bacteria, so when your mouth is chronically dry, you’re much more likely to experience tooth decay.

Drinking water throughout the day, chewing sugar free gum, and eating fruits and vegetables can keep you hydrated and your mouth from drying out. In more serious cases, prescription mouth rinses are available, so it’s important to speak with your dentist if you’re experiencing problems with dry mouth.

Burning mouth syndrome is also common for people with diabetes and can cause a burning or tingling sensation in the mouth – like you’ve scalded it with a hot drink.

High Glucose Levels Lead to Thrush

Oral candidiasis, more commonly called thrush, is an oral yeast infection that can cause white patches, redness, a bad taste in the mouth, and cracking at the corners of your lips. Thrush is a common result of serious dry mouth issues, especially with individuals who struggle to regulate high glucose levels. Because infections are more difficult to treat and recover from for people with diabetes, it’s important to speak with your doctor as soon as you get symptoms.

Higher Rates of Tooth Decay

If your diabetes is not well controlled, you’ll have more sugar present in your saliva. As we’ve mentioned before, bacteria in the mouth feast upon sugar in plaque and saliva, releasing an acidic substance that eats through enamel and causes cavities. While this is concerning on it’s own, combined with the risk of gum disease and the complications that occur with slow healing, and it’s important to make your dental health a priority to avoid abscesses, tooth loss, and other serious issues.

Preventing Dental Health Problems Caused By Diabetes

While having diabetes does put you at higher risk for dental health complications, you can prevent them and keep your teeth and gums healthy.

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Get regular exercise
  • Check your blood sugar regularly
  • Brush your teeth twice per day
  • Quit smoking
  • Floss at night before bed (using a water flosser can help if you have inflammation)
  • Minimize sugar in your diet
  • Maintain regular dental checkups and let your dentist know if you have diabetes.

Schedule an Appointment with Our Fuquay Varina Dentist Today

If you’re due for a dental checkup and teeth cleaning, and you’d like to discuss how to improve your dental health while having diabetes, reach out to our family dentist in Fuquay Varina today. We will help you manage your dental health and provide the care you need to ensure healthy teeth and gums. Schedule an appointment today by calling  919-552-2431 or fill out the form below to learn more.

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