High blood glucose can cause a myriad of health problems throughout your body. This happens because too much glucose in the blood impairs the functioning of different organs and body systems.
In fact, diabetes affects the whole mouth, and in this article, you’ll learn how and why this happens.
How Does High Blood Glucose Affect Your Teeth and Gums
The saliva in your mouth contains glucose. So, if you have uncontrolled diabetes, the glucose levels in your saliva increase, supporting the growth of harmful bacteria. When combined with food, these bacteria form plaque.
This soft, sticky film also develops from consuming high-sugar or high-starchy foods. There are different types of plaque, some of them causing bad breath and gum disease, while others cause cavities or tooth decay.
Gum Disease and Diabetes
If you have diabetes, you’ll need a longer time to heal gum disease than others. What’s more, this mouth problem can worsen your blood sugar control, and increase the risk of other diabetes complications.
In fact, diabetes and gum disease are linked in both directions. The gum inflammation can upset the immune system by escaping into the bloodstream. This, in turn, affects blood glucose levels.
That’s why regular dental check-ups are essential for people with diabetes. The dentist should pay equal attention to your gums as he does to your teeth.
Causes of Gum Disease
Besides diabetes, other potential causes of gum disease are stress, tobacco use, certain medications, and genetics. In fact, these risk factors can worsen the condition as well.
The buildup of the sticky white film called dental plaque on your teeth is the primary cause of gum disease. In order to prevent the plaque deposits from hardening into calculus (tartar), you have to remove it from your gum line and teeth every 12 hours.
The bacteria it contains, cause inflammation (irritation) of the gums, which, in turn, leads to swelling, redness, and bleeding. You have to treat this condition early to prevent it from destroying the bone and soft tissue which hold your teeth in position.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
You may have gum disease and not know about it as it’s usually not painful. But, you may notice the following symptoms:
- Swollen and red gums;
- Gaps between the teeth and the teeth moving apart;
- Bleeding in the mouth when cleaning or eating;
- Receding (shrinking) gums;
- Constant bad breath;
- Pus around the gum line (abscesses);
- Loose teeth.
If you notice these symptoms, consult your dentist to help prevent and treat your gum disease.
How to Treat Gum Disease
The treatment depends on the stage of the disease. The first is called gingivitis, the second periodontitis, and the most severe – is advanced periodontitis.
To prevent early-stage gum disease from progressing into more severe, improve your blood glucose control. Also, you should quit smoking, and brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day. Don’t forget to clean between your teeth once a day.
You can also use an antiseptic mouthwash to help decrease plaque buildup and bacteria in your mouth.
For more severe cases of gum disease, you must consult your dentist who will use special techniques and tools to remove the tartar and plaque from the teeth roots. Surgery is also an option if these techniques don’t work for you.
Other Mouth Problems Linked to Diabetes
Here are the most common mouth problems that might develop because of uncontrolled diabetes:
- Gingivitis – inflamed or unhealthy gums;
- Periodontitis – mild or severe gum disease;
- Candidiasis, or thrush – a growth of fungus on your tongue, gums, mouth roof, or cheeks that your body can’t control;
- Dry mouth – insufficient saliva which can lead to gum disease and tooth decay;
- Oral burning – poor blood glucose control can cause a burning sensation in your mouth.
Tips to Keep Your Mouth Healthy
Follow these tips regularly to prevent mouth problems:
- Control your blood glucose levels;
- Consume healthy foods, and avoid or limit sugary or starchy foods;
- Choose a soft toothbrush;
- Use dental floss at least once a day;
- Brush every part of your teeth gently and with small circular motions;
- Brush your tongue;
- Use a new toothbrush every three months;
- Drink water with added fluoride to help prevent tooth decay;
- Take good denture care regularly;
- Use a dental brush to remove plaque between your teeth;
- Inform your dentist that you have diabetes and follow their advice.