The link between diabetes and teeth health may not be obvious at first glance, but with just a little bit of research, it is easy to discover that a link does exist. Blood sugar can affect every part of the mouth: the teeth and gums, the jaw, and the soft tissues of the mouth, including the tongue, the roof of the mouth, and the inside of the cheeks. Everyone should have a consistent routine for brushing and flossing, but for those with diabetes, there are several reasons to be even more vigilant with mouth care.
High Blood Sugar Affects the Entire Body
Those who suffer from diabetes will begin to feel the effects of high blood sugar everywhere: the eyes, the kidneys, the feet, and the mouth. Over time, diabetics might experience complications such as heart attacks, blindness, nerve damage, and gum disease or tooth loss. High levels of blood sugar leave the gums and teeth vulnerable to many easily preventable conditions, such as cavities, dry mouths, thrush, and other painful conditions. Because both of these conditions directly affect the other, mouth disease can increase the dangers of diabetes just as diabetes increases the risks of mouth disease. This happens because bacterial infections add to chronic elevations of inflammatory meditators, and then may lead to insulin resistance.
1. Sugars and Starches Feed the Bacteria in the Mouth
Everyone’s mouth is affected by bacteria. Many different types of bacteria are naturally present there. As the sugars and starches in food interact with the bacteria, plaque forms and begins to attack the hard enamel that protects the inner part of the teeth. The weakened areas in the enamel are called cavities. With the higher levels of blood sugar that diabetics suffer, the bacteria in the mouth forms more acid and leads to further cavity development.
2. A Weakened Immune System Puts the Gums at Risk
One dangerous side effect of diabetes is a weakened defense system. The rates of bacterial infection increase and the gums are left exposed to the dangerous microbes that infect them. Diseases such as gingivitis periodontitis, and tooth loss are free to run rampant throughout the mouth. Conversely, as mouth diseases gain strength, they are likely to increase the risk of diabetes and its effects.
3. It Takes Longer to Heal From Gum Disease When Diabetes Is Present
Diabetes will increase the severity of gum disease, makes it more prevalent, and reduces the body’s ability to heal from diseases. It can take years for the symptoms of the diseases to become apparent and so by the time treatment begins the ability to counteract the effects is impaired. As the body continues to fight all of the detrimental effects of diabetes, its resources become strained and healing is more difficult and much slower.
What Is the Answer?
There are some simple steps to take in order to protect the mouth from these diseases:
- Brush teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- Use a brush with soft bristles and use a gentle, circular motion for brushing
- Brush the tongue as part of the routine
- Floss at least once every day, easing the floss below the gum and around the top of the tooth
- Rinse well after flossing
Avoid the majority of these problems by working to prevent diabetes and taking appropriate steps to prevent mouth disease. This represents a lifetime commitment, but will provide a reward in healthier teeth and gums, and overall physical health.