diabetes and oral health

Does Diabetes Cause Tooth Decay and Oral Health Problems?

Diabetes can wreak havoc on your body, including your teeth, gums, and tongue. For instance, it can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental issues. At Sunrise Dental, we help our patients with diabetes maintain beautiful, healthy smiles through preventive dental care. Understanding how diabetes can affect your oral health could help you prevent serious dental complications. 

Oral Symptoms of Diabetes

High blood sugar, excessive thirst, and nerve damage in your feet are a few bodily signs of diabetes. There are also many early warning signs of diabetes that you may notice in your mouth, such as:

  • Low saliva production
  • Inflamed gums
  • Difficulty tasting 
  • Infections inside your mouth

Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you notice any symptoms of diabetes. If diabetes goes untreated, it can cause serious damage to your mouth and to the rest of your body. Diabetes affects your oral health in many ways, so don’t forget to schedule regular dental appointments if you are diagnosed with this disease. 

Four Ways Diabetes Affects Oral Health

1: Gum Disease

Diabetes weakens the immune system and makes it more difficult for your body to fight off infections like gum disease. Treating gum disease early prevents severe complications such as receding gums, periodontal pockets, and tooth loss. Early signs of gum disease include swollen, inflamed, tender, or bleeding gums. 

Regular brushing and flossing are essential in preventing gum disease, whether or not you have diabetes. However, good oral hygiene habits are even more crucial if you are diabetic. Diabetes not only increases your risk of gum disease, it also worsens the infection and makes it more difficult to treat. Gum disease, in turn, can increase your blood sugar levels, making your diabetes harder to control.  

2: Oral Thrush

Another type of mouth infection with an increased risk for diabetics is thrush. Oral thrush is a yeast infection that can cause white patches, bleeding, and redness on your inner cheeks or tongue. This type of infection is also contagious, so it’s important to treat it as soon as possible. 

3. Dry Mouth

Diabetes increases your risk of dry mouth, a condition in which your body fails to produce enough saliva. Low saliva production prevents your mouth from eliminating bacteria and food particles from your teeth and gums, causing bad breath and dental complications. 

Plaque builds up more easily in a dry mouth and attacks your tooth enamel, increasing your risk of oral thrush, tooth decay, and gum disease. It can also cause lead to cavities and tooth sensitivity. The bacteria in plaque attack your gums as well, leading to inflammation and gum disease. 

4. Burning Mouth

Another problem associated with diabetes is burning mouth syndrome (BMS). Caused by diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage), BMS commonly affects the tongue. This condition causes a painful burning or tingling sensation in your mouth that can come and go or be constant. 

Besides your tongue, BMS can also affect your gums, lips, throat, the inside of your cheeks, the roof of your mouth, or your entire mouth. If you experience a burning sensation, loss of taste, and/or a bitter or metallic taste in your mouth, contact your dentist to find out if you have burning mouth syndrome. 

Protecting Teeth from Diabetes

Follow these tips to lessen the effects of diabetes on your dental health:

  • Quit smoking
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily
  • If you wear dentures, clean them every day
  • Control your blood sugar levels as directed by your doctor
  • Visit your dentist for regular checkups

Dental Cleanings in Peoria

Regular dental cleanings and exams help keep gum disease and cavities at bay, protecting your oral health and making it easier to manage your blood sugar levels. If you’re due for a dental cleaning, please don’t hesitate to contact Sunrise Dental in Peoria, Arizona. Call us at 623-487-4870 today to schedule an appointment. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (6/30/2022). Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash