Diabetes is a chronic and complicated disease that affects how your body processes sugar—its main source of energy. Diabetes symptoms mostly affect your heart, eyes, nerves, and kidneys, but it can affect your whole body, including your mouth.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), more than 29 million Americans have diabetes, and almost 2 million new cases are diagnosed each year. Managing your blood sugar is very important if you have diabetes and will help keep symptoms at bay. Taking good care of your oral wellness is actually one key to managing blood sugar.
Diabetes & Your Mouth
Diabetes can show itself in your mouth by causing:
- Gum disease: This condition is surprisingly common among most adults and has an even stronger correlation with diabetes, but it can and should be treated.
- Dry mouth: Diabetes tends to cause a decrease in saliva, which can be uncomfortable and cause bad breath.
- Decreased ability to taste: Diabetes can make it difficult to fully taste and enjoy your food. Try new spices to improve your meals, but be careful not to use too much sugar.
- Oral infections: Yeast (thrush) is especially common because diabetes affects your immune system. People with dentures and diabetes are at an increased risk of developing oral infections.
- Slow healing: Diabetes can affect your ability to recover from injury and illness. Cold sores or cuts in your mouth may stick around longer if you have diabetes.
Gum Disease & Diabetes
You’d be absolutely shocked at the high number of bacteria that live in your mouth every day. Most of them are totally normal and fine. But, certain types of bacteria can be bad for your oral health and overall health.
Since bacteria live off the sugars in your mouth, people with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing gum disease from the bad bacteria. In fact, 22% of people diagnosed with diabetes will also get gum disease. In turn, gum disease infections can cause your blood sugar to elevate, which is the exact opposite of what you want. Thankfully, treating gum disease has been shown to also treat high blood sugar.
Gum disease is common and treatable and can vary in severity from a minor inflammation with sore and bleeding gums, to a major issue of receding gums, pus surrounding the teeth, and eventual tooth loss. If you have diabetes, it’s important to keep an eye on your oral health and practice good hygiene to prevent gum disease from starting or getting worse. Gum disease is linked to a number of other health problems, so you really don’t want to ignore any signs that it might be developing.
Prevention & Protection
The ADA recommends controlling your blood sugar, brushing and flossing your teeth, and seeing the dentist to protect your mouth from symptoms of diabetes. Controlling gum disease and practicing great oral hygiene is known to help manage diabetes.
The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.