Diabetes patients know the condition can impair the nerves, eyes, heart, kidneys, and other critical organs. However, did you know that diabetes can also create oral problems? Diabetes increases the risk of periodontal (gum) disease, an inflammation of the gums and bones that keep the teeth in place. Periodontal disease can cause pain, foul breath, chewing problems, and tooth loss. Diabetes can also hinder healing, making periodontal disease treatment more difficult. Speak to a Houston Texas dentist today to learn more.
Why are diabetics more likely to suffer oral health issues?
High blood sugar is the connection between diabetes and dental health issues. Oral health concerns are more likely to develop if blood sugar is not effectively managed. This is because uncontrolled diabetes reduces white blood cells, the body’s principal defense against bacterial infections in the mouth.
Diabetes can protect against the onset of oral health problems in the same way that it can protect against the development of severe organ complications such as eye, heart, and nerve damage.
What are oral health issues linked to diabetes?
Diabetes patients are at an increased risk of:
- Gingivitis (gum inflammation) and periodontitis
Diabetes, in addition to decreasing white blood cells, causes the thickening of blood vessels. This delays the transport of nutrients to and waste products from tissues throughout the body, including the mouth. The body’s capacity for fighting infections is compromised when this sequence of events occurs. Because periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, patients with uncontrolled diabetes may have more frequent and severe gum disease.
- Dry mouth
Diabetes can cause a decrease in saliva (spit) flow, leading to a dry mouth. Soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth damage can all result from dry mouth.
Diabetes patients who routinely take antibiotics to treat various diseases are more likely to develop a tongue and mouth fungal infection. The fungus grows on the high glucose levels in uncontrolled diabetes patients’ saliva. Dentures (especially if worn all the time) can also result in fungal infections.
- Insufficient healing of oral tissues
Uncontrolled diabetes patients heal poorly following dental surgery or other dental work since blood flow to the treatment site can be disrupted.
- Burning tongue or mouth
The presence of thrush causes this illness.
Diabetes patients who smoke have an even higher risk of developing thrush and periodontal disease – up to 20 times greater than nonsmokers. Smoking also decreases blood flow to the gums, which may impact wound healing in this tissue area.