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Diabetes & Oral Health

Diabetes Type I and II affects 29 million or 9.3 percent of Americans. Type I diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t make enough insulin, the hormone that carries sugar from the blood to the cells to create energy. A body with Type II Diabetes stops responding to insulin, leaving too much sugar in the blood which causes problems in eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart, immunity cells and teeth.

This condition changes how you approach eating, exercising and visiting your doctor. While it involves your blood sugar, the National Institutes of Health report that about one third of people with diabetes have severe gum disease, causing gum tissue and bone around the teeth to break down. High levels of sugar in the blood make you more vulnerable to bacterial infection and your teeth and gums can pay the price.

How Diabetes Affects your Mouth

Type I and II diabetes influence many factors of your health, including your mouth and oral health. Dry mouth is a prominent symptom of diabetes I and II. This may sound like a small complaint, but saliva protects your teeth and gums from harmful bacteria. With less saliva comes a higher risk of cavities, gum inflammation and gingivitis. Teeth in diabetic children tend to erupt earlier and a dulled sense of taste might come later for adults.

The more serious side effect of diabetes for oral health is the increased risk of gum disease. With the lack of saliva in the mouth, gums are left exposed to bacterial infections and periodontal disease. As you age, poor blood sugar control increases the risk of gum disease. Serious gum disease can cause blood sugar to rise even more, making it harder to fight.

Preventing Gum Disease

If you or a loved one is diabetic, don’t worry. There are ways to control gum disease and keep gums and keep teeth healthy. Regular dental cleanings and checkups ensure that your teeth get the star treatment. Your dentist will be able to catch trouble early and frequent cleanings prevents bacteria from taking hold of your mouth. Furthermore, treating your gums regularly can help control blood sugar and decrease the progression of periodontal disease.

Diabetics likely watch their food intake carefully anyway, that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. With blood sugar levels always at a special balance, it’s generally best to stay away from too many sweets or unhealthy foods. Vegetables, lean proteins and grains should be a daily part of your diet. Exercise boosts immune cells that could be laid down with sugar in the blood stream and avoiding tobacco keeps your heart and lungs functioning as they should. To prevent gum disease at home, be sure to brush three times a day with a power toothbrush or soft-bristled brush and floss daily. To make up for slow saliva production, be sure to drink plenty of water every day.