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The Relationship Between Diabetes and Dental Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 100 million Americans are living with diabetes or prediabetes today. Diabetes can cause a number of problems, including increased risk of stroke and heart disease, increased risk of infection, visual disturbances such as cataracts and glaucoma, and many more. Yet another thing that is negatively affected by diabetes is your teeth. What’s more, these problems exacerbate the symptoms of diabetes, trapping patients in a vicious cycle. At St. Petersburg Dental Center, we believe that a little bit of knowledge can go a long way; to that end, we offer these details about diabetes and dental health in hopes that you develop a better understanding of how important it is for your health — dental and overall — to control your blood sugar.

Diabetes and Your Teeth

Ultimately, it’s high blood sugar that causes all health problems for those who have diabetes. When blood sugar is elevated, white blood cells — the body’s first defense against bacteria infections — become compromised. When this happens, the following are more likely to occur:

  • Xerostomia, or Dry Mouth — Saliva helps naturally clean your teeth; without it, bad breath, ulcers, and tooth decay can occur.
  • Gingivitis and Periodontitis — When the white blood cells are weakened, it is more difficult for your body to fight off infections; this includes all forms of gum disease, as they are the result of infection.
  • Diminished Ability to Heal — When blood sugar is not controlled, blood flow is reduced; as a result, any wound that needs to heal, whether from infection or surgery, will take longer than it would if sugar levels were as they should be.
  • Thrush — A fungal infection of the mouth, thrush thrives on the high glucose levels of diabetics; thrush is more likely to occur in those who wear dentures and can also lead to a burning sensation in the mouth and tongue.

These are bad enough, but all of them affect insulin levels. When insulin levels are elevated, these problems occur, and elevate insulin levels … you get it.

An Ounce of Prevention

There are definitely things that can reduce the diabetic’s chances of experiencing the problems mentioned above; first and foremost, controlling their blood sugar. They can also:

  • Practice good oral hygiene by brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting the dentist every six months.
  • Share the name of your doctor with your dentist (and vice versa) so that they can work together to make sure your blood sugars are normalized before any procedures.
  • Follow post-cleaning and post-operative instructions to the letter to promote faster healing.
  • Seek immediate treatment if you develop a sore in your mouth.

If you have diabetes, you’ve got enough on your plate without having to worry about losing your teeth. At our St. Petersburg and Clearwater offices, we can help you attain the dental health you need so that you can concentrate on getting your blood sugar under control.