How Diabetes Can Impact Your Teeth and Gums

Diabetes, a chronic disease that affects the body’s ability to produce or use insulin, affected around 422 million people across the globe in 2014, according to figures released by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Apart from the large number of people it affects, diabetes is the major cause of kidney failure, blindness, high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke. But did you know that this highly common ailment has a significantly negative impact on the teeth and gums, making them prone to mouth problems, or periodontal diseases?

Impact of Diabetes on the Body

Diabetes impacts the body’s ability to turn glucose into energy. Thus, the glucose levels rise in the blood, which can impact any and every organ in the body. Although diabetes can be effectively managed, it is important to be aware of the potential complications arising from the high sugar levels and the damage this can cause to every part of the body.

While the focus has always been on the impact of diabetes on the heart, digestion and the kidney, there’s too little attention paid to the increased possibility of teeth decay and gum infection. The mouth needs special attention if one has diabetes, simply because infections of the mouth has a huge impact on overall health and wellbeing, says Dr. Gary Horblitt.

Why Does Diabetes Cause Periodontal Diseases?

Saliva is always present in your mouth, and glucose is present in the saliva. When a person has diabetes, the saliva tends to have high glucose levels. This means there’s excess sugar continuously in your mouth. This is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which combine with food to form plaque. So even if you’re eating something that does not contain any starch or sugar, the saliva in your mouth can add the sugar to form plaque, which causes tooth decay and gum disease.

Tooth decay, salivary gland dysfunction, fungal infection, lichen planus and lichenoid reactions, infection and delayed healing, taste impairment are the most common oral health problem associated with diabetes, according to as stated by the American Dental Association.

Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar levels, can also disrupt the delivery of nutrients and removal of waste from the tissues in the gums. When this situation persists, it can lead to severe periodontal problems. Any infection in the mouth significantly increases the risk of infection in any other part of the body.

If you’re been diagnosed with diabetes, make sure to visit a dentist at least once in two months. Preventing tooth decay and gum infection has a positive impact on the rest of your body.