Oral Health and Diabetes

The Connection Between Oral Health and Diabetes

The Connection Between Oral Health and Diabetes

Oral Health and Diabetes Connection from Dr. Marichia Attalla, Leading Nassau County Periodontist

Our mouths are home to a vast host of bacteria. There are more bacteria in your mouth at any given time than there are people living on the Earth. A lot of this bacteria is harmless, but some types of bacteria cause infection.

Not taking good care of your teeth and gums can allow the bacteria to thrive and cause numerous issues. People with gum disease or periodontal disease have mouth bacteria that have settled into their gums. There is an interesting link between oral health and diabetes. People with diabetes are at higher risk for gum disease, and poor blood glucose management is also associated with gum and tooth problems.

Gingivitis is a type of gum disease that if left untreated turns into periodontal disease, which can be extremely severe. As the conditions progress, your gums begin to pull away from your teeth creating pockets that the bacteria will settle in. This leads to infection. These types of mouth infections destroy the gums further and can even cause damage to the bone around the roots of your teeth. Loss of gums causes loose teeth, and they may fall out or need to be extracted.

Diabetes and Oral Health

There are around 30 million Americans currently living with diabetes. They are often surprised to discover one particularly unsuspected side-effect of their condition - gum disease and other oral conditions. The decline in oral health is also associated with many other health complications such as cardiovascular diseases and even kidney disease. When coupled with diabetes these conditions decrease your quality of life.

Recent research has revealed that the connection between gum disease and diabetes may be two-way. It isn't a cause-and-effect relationship, but instead, it's more of a cyclic one. People suffering from diabetes are not only more likely to develop gum disease, but people with gum disease are more apt to develop diabetes as well. More severe forms of gum disease can affect someone's blood glucose and worsen the severity of their diabetes. Then diabetes results in an increased risk of infection and inability for the body to fight off infection, which makes gum disease more likely and harder to treat.

Thrush is also another common mouth condition associated with diabetes. Thrush is a type of yeast infection in the mouth. Yeast is a fungus. There is naturally a small, harmless amount of fungus in your mouth along with the mouth bacteria. Sometimes the fungus can get out of control, though, resulting in a fungal infection.

Blood Glucose and Periodontal Disease

For people with diabetes, it is crucial to control accurately blood glucose levels - not only to manage your condition but also to avoid gum disease. Poorly managing your blood glucose can result in severe periodontal disease, which in turn causes your blood sugar levels to rise and become even harder to control. Maintaining your blood glucose can also help with dry mouth symptoms and mouth discomfort that may be caused by diabetes.

While carefully monitoring and taking care of your blood glucose levels, you also need to take good care of your teeth and gums. Oral health is paramount, and even more important if you have diabetes. You should brush and floss your teeth properly as well as have regular dental checkups every six months. Smoking and other lifestyle choices when you have diabetes also increase your chances of developing mouth infections such as thrush and gingivitis.

If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to inform your dentist or periodontist because you have special oral care needs. They will work with you to meet those needs as well as help you to best manage your condition and the side effects that come with it. If you find yourself struggling to control your blood glucose levels, you should also try to reschedule any non-emergency dental procedures as well and speak with your oral surgeon about your condition.

Please contact Dr. Marichia Attalla for a free consultation regarding any questions or concerns about your periodontal health.
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