How Diabetes Can Affect Your Teeth

DiabetesIMGA recent study from the University of Nevada and Emory University Schools of Medicine found that people with diabetes are 1.46 more times likely to lose their teeth than people without diabetes. In addition, people with diabetes are more likely to lose their teeth earlier in life, as well as experience more severe and frequent periodontal disease and dental caries.

Two Types of Diabetes

There are two types of diabetes. People who have Type 1 diabetes (formerly called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes) have a total lack of insulin, which the body uses to convert sugar, starches and food into energy. With Type 1, the body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin.

In people who have Type 2 diabetes (formerly called adult-onset diabetes or non insulin-dependent diabetes), the body is unable to utilize insulin correctly and becomes insulin resistant. As Type 2 worsens, the pancreas may make less and less insulin. Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age, and the incidence in children is rising.

How Diabetes Affects Teeth and Gums

Anyone can develop gum disease, but past research found that many people with diabetes have low awareness of good dental health and are less likely to see a dentist. High blood glucose can contribute to bacteria growth, so if blood glucose levels stay high, teeth and gum problems will be worse. In addition, gum disease itself can increase blood sugar, which can lead to diabetic complications, thus leading to vicious cycle.

In addition, smoking is a very strong contributor to a bad case of gum disease, particularly if the person is over 45.

This latest study also found that after controlling several factors, older patients, those who did not floss and those with diabetic retinopathy had more dental loss than others.

What Can You Do?

People with diabetes need to be even more diligent about their oral care and make sure they inform their dental team about their diabetes. Brush and floss your teeth every day, don’t smoke and don’t skip dental check-ups. Be diligent about taking your diabetes medication and checking your blood glucose levels to keep everything under control.

A British study found that dealing with oral health problems of people with diabetes soon after diagnosis can save substantial money in medical treatments later on. So if you have diabetes and are experiencing red, sore or bleeding gums, schedule a dental appointment as soon as possible!

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