How Diabetes Can Affect Your Oral Health

How Diabetes Can Affect Your Oral Health

Did you know that your oral health is closely related to your overall health? Because of this, certain medical conditions may have effects on your oral health that you may not even be aware of. Certain medical conditions can affect your oral health more than others, and one condition that can have a significant effect on your oral health is diabetes. 

Diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels due to the body’s inability to produce or respond to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that would normally convert sugars from foods into usable energy. However, people with type 1 diabetes do not produce enough insulin to accomplish this, while people with type 2 diabetes are not able to respond to insulin properly. 

As a result, high blood sugar can occur. High blood sugar can affect the body in various ways, but it can also affect your oral health in these ways: 


Increases the Risk of Gum Disease

Gum disease is extremely popular in people with diabetes, especially in individuals who do not know they have the disease and/or people who do not regulate their blood sugar carefully. This is generally due to the fact that sugars feed the bacteria responsible for causing gum disease. As a result, this causes more bacteria to survive and reproduce. When excess bacteria accumulates along the gums, this infects the gum tissue and causes it to become red, swollen, and tender. As gum disease progresses, it can eventually break down the connective tissues and bone around the teeth, which can lead to tooth loss. 


Causes Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is another common oral health problem in people with diabetes. Dry mouth is when there is not enough saliva produced in the mouth, which causes the mouth to feel sticky and dry. Dry mouth is also often accompanied by bad breath, since the mouth develops more bacteria as a result of having less saliva. Unfortunately, these increased bacteria levels also increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

oral thrush on tongue

Increases the Risk of Oral Thrush

Oral infections, such as oral thrush, are another oral health complication of diabetes. This is partially because diabetes decreases immune system efficiency and partially because of high blood sugar. Oral thrush is a fungus that feeds off sugars, so high blood sugar levels increase the likelihood of fungal growth on the tongue and cheeks. Oral thrush is also especially prevalent in individuals with dentures. 


Slows Down Healing

In addition to making gum disease and oral thrush more likely to occur, diabetes also slows down the healing process. This is due to the fact that high blood sugar prevents nutrients and oxygen from energizing the cells, decreases immune system function, and increases inflammation within the cells. For some, this can make it difficult to get ahead of oral infections. 


Impairs Taste

Diabetes can also impair your ability to taste properly. While this is not necessarily a threat to your oral health, it is not desirable. High blood sugar can either leave you with a permanent sweet taste in the mouth or it can make you unable to taste the sweetness of certain foods. Either way, the things you eat or drink won’t taste the same as they used to. 


Dr. Deborah TabbPatients at Bethesda Family Dentistry benefit from the knowledge and experience that only comes from a diverse team. From general dentistry to endodontic, periodontics, and cosmetic dental services, this Bethesda, MD clinic is ready to be the only source you need for all your oral health needs.