You might be surprised to hear that diabetes can have a direct impact on your oral health! But how? It’s mostly down to high blood sugars, and the effect it has on a person’s oral environment. According to Diabetes UK, people with type 2 diabetes are around three times more likely to experience dental issues than people without diabetes. Type 1 diabetics also have an increased risk.
With this in mind, we’re going to look at the different ways in which the condition affects teeth and gums.
Those with diabetes are more likely to experience periodontitis, also commonly known as gum disease. There are various reasons why people with diabetes are more at risk, with one of the most common reasons being that they’re more likely to experience high blood sugar levels. In turn, this can lead to too much sugar in the saliva, which is a breeding ground for bacteria! Raised blood glucose levels can also damage blood vessels in the gums, which makes them more likely to get infected.
Periodontitis can eventually lead to tooth loss, so it’s important that those living with diabetes maintain a good oral hygiene routine.
Dry mouth – also known as xerostomia – is a common side effect of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The exact cause is not known, but it is thought that high sugar levels in the saliva could play a part (like in the case of periodontitis), as well as some medicines used to treat diabetes. As well as being uncomfortable, dry mouth can lead to tooth decay and even tooth loss, so it’s important to keep an eye on it.
Although dry mouth is tricky to prevent, there are various ways you can alleviate symptoms. Chewing sugar-free gum throughout the day, or using a special mouthwash are just a few effective methods.
The likelihood of oral thrush is also increased if you have diabetes. If you have the condition, you might experience a bitter taste, creamy white coloured patches in the mouth, pain and even cracks at the corner of your lips. Like periodontitis and dry mouth, the most common cause of oral thrush is raised blood sugar levels. This, especially when paired with dry mouth, provides the perfect conditions for yeast to thrive and grow.
Although reducing your blood sugar levels is the main way to prevent it, maintaining a good level of oral care can make you less susceptible. There are also a number of topical creams you can use to treat oral thrush, so don’t worry too much!
Gentle Dental Care Can Help
Hopefully this has given you some insight into the relationship between diabetes and oral health.
If you have diabetes yourself and are unsure about anything, we offer preventative care and oral hygiene advice here at GDC Liverpool. Get in touch to arrange an appointment, and let us help you today.