The Impact of Diabetes on Your Oral Health

Nearly everyone diagnosed with diabetes is aware of the side effects it has on your everyday health, but what most people may not know is the negative effects diabetes can have on your oral health.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic and sometimes fatal disease where the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. The body needs insulin to use glucose as an energy source. Diabetes leads to high blood sugar levels, which can damage organs, blood vessels and nerves and cause death and/or coma at high levels.

Types of Diabetes:

  • Type 1
  • Type 2
  • Gestational
  • Other forms

Type 1 Diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and kills the beta cells of the pancreas. The end results? No insulin is produced or released into the body, resulting in sugar building up in the blood instead of being used as energy. This type of diabetes typically develops in childhood, but can happen at any age. It accounts for 5% of all diabetes cases. There are no preventative options or cures for type 1 diabetes yet. Individuals diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes are dependent on insulin therapy to sustain life.

Type 2 Diabetes:

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body can’t properly use the insulin that is released (called insulin insensitivity) or does not make enough insulin. Approximately 90% of all diabetics are type 2. Type 2 diabetes often develops in adults (although there has been a recent spike in inactive, obese children). Depending on severity, type 2 diabetes can be managed by diet and exercise, medication and/or insulin to gain more effective control over the disease.

Gestational and other types of diabetes:

A third type of diabetes, called gestational, is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy. It affects approximately 2-4% of all pregnancies and involves an increased risk of developing diabetes for both the mother and child. Gestational diabetes requires administration of insulin for the duration of the pregnancy.

Additionally, diabetes can be brought on by the intake of certain medications. For example; schizophrenia and the use of prednisone.

Diabetics are at an increased risk for:

  • Periodontal disease
  • Thrush
  • Dry mouth, which can lead to: soreness; ulcers; infections and cavities

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease can vary from simple gum inflammation to serious disease that can result in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. In the worst-case scenario, teeth can be lost. It is estimated that over 80% of the adult population has periodontal (gum) disease to one degree or another. Visit our gum disease page to learn more!

Diabetes and Periodontal Disease

Due to the frequency and severity of periodontal disease among people with diabetes, periodontal disease is considered to be a diabetes complication. Not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to periodontal disease, periodontal disease may have the potential to affect blood sugar control and contribute to the progression of diabetes. Diabetics are more susceptible to bacterial infection and have a decreased ability to fight bacteria that invades the gums.

Oral Health Complications

  • Blood vessels deliver oxygen and nourishment to body tissues, including the mouth, and carry waste away. Diabetes causes blood vessels to thicken, which slows the flow of nutrients and removal of harmful wastes. This can weaken the resistance of gum and bone tissue to infection.
  • Smoking increases the chances of periodontal disease. Diabetic smokers aged 45+ are 20 times more likely to have severe periodontitis.
  • The Immune system may not function properly, thus increasing the risk of periodontal disease.

Ways to help Decrease Risks of Gum Disease:

  • Control blood sugar levels,
  • Regular hygiene visits,
  • Avoid smoking,
  • Clean dentures and retainers daily

If diagnosed with gum disease, it’s important to talk your oral health professional about next steps. Visit our Non-Surgical Gum Treatment page to learn how we can help you begin the process of managing gum disease and maintaining a healthy smile!

How Can Proper Oral Health Care Help?

Proper oral health care can help by eliminating or reducing the severity of gum or periodontal disease. You can achieve this by following these steps:

  • Maintaining a regular hygiene care program
  • Oral self care
  • Fluoride trays, gel, etc. for home use
  • Probe for neuropathy issues (loss of feeling in hands, reducing brushing and flossing ability).
  • Regular checks for thrush, dry mouth, sores, etc.

Visiting an oral health professional regularly can help reverse poor dental health! Don’t wait to take care and maintain your dental health! Contact our office today or visit our gum disease page to learn more!

The Smile Dental Centre offers a full range of dental services backed by outstanding patient care for children and adults. The Smile Dental Centre won the Consumer Choice Award five years in a row (2013 – 2017) for general and cosmetic dentistry in the London, ON region. Now that’s something to smile about!