Every year we come to learn a little bit more about how our health is interconnected. Diabetes isn’t generally thought of as an oral health concern. Despite this, research has revealed that those with this condition have more significant oral health concerns. The result is growing pressure for those with diabetes to spend extra time on their teeth and gums. This extra step can offset the additional risks those with diabetes face.
How Diabetes And Oral Health Are Linked
Ongoing research has been providing unexpected insight into diabetic oral health risks. While sugar is a known element in tooth decay, high blood sugar wasn’t directly connected. The results of studies into high blood sugar show that it plays a role as well. The heightened risk is the result of the suppressed immune system that comes from high blood sugar. Its presence weakens the white blood cells that work to defend against infection.
Studies show those who have diabetes experience:
- Dry Mouth – This condition is caused by reduced saliva formation. Saliva plays a vital role in preventing tooth decay. Infections, oral soreness, and ulcers can all result from dry mouth.
- Gingivitis and Periodontitis – Gum disease is more likely in those with diabetes. The weakened white blood cells are involved. Thickened blood resulting from high blood sugar is also less efficient at waste elimination. It also has a more challenging time delivering nutrients. These factors make it hard to respond to gingivitis adequately.
- Difficulty Healing – Diabetics experience complications with healing. This difficulty produces complications in recovery from surgeries, including oral surgery.
- Thrush – This oral yeast infection appears in the young, old, and those with an impaired immune system.
Another factor that can elevate oral health risks is the use of tobacco products. The resulting risk in people with diabetes who use tobacco is dramatically higher. These patients experience a nearly 20 times increase in their risk. This elevated risk is the result of tobacco’s ability to reduce the blood flow in your gums.
Even without the complications from tobacco use, diabetics need to take extra care. Monitoring their blood sugar is already part of their regular routine. They will also need to spend extra time with their oral hygiene practices. It’s essential that those with this condition also inform their dental providers. Tell them about any episodes involving low or high blood sugar and your usual insulin dosage.
Manage Your Diabetes With Your Dentist’s Help
Thankfully the potential complications that come with diabetes can be managed with a bit of effort. Regular oral hygiene can ensure that the worst of oral health complications are kept at bay. Careful blood sugar management can help reduce the risks of gum disease. If oral surgery becomes necessary, tell your physician. They’ll work together with your dentist to ensure that the necessary steps are taken. When these two medical professionals work together, your chances of success increase. Contact your dental health practitioner and your physician today to get them working together for your overall health.