Diabetes and Your Mouth: What You Should Know - Rockford Dentist - Above & Beyond Dentistry
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Diabetes and Your Mouth: What You Should Know

Jun 20 2017

Diabetes and Your Mouth: What You Should Know

People who live with diabetes know the disease can harm the eyes, kidneys, heart, nerves and other important systems in the body. Did you know diabetes can also wreak havoc on your mouth? If you are one of the 22 million people living with diabetes, there is a lot you need to know.


Diabetes affects the body’s ability to produce sugar. When you eat, food is converted to sugar and used for energy. When you have Type I diabetes, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, which is the hormone that carries sugar from your blood to the cells that need it. If you have Type II diabetes, the body stops responding to insulin. Both result in high blood sugar levels in your body.  So, what does all of this have to do with your mouth and what can you do about it? The good news is that prevention is possible and you can take control of your dental health.


What are some of the warning signs that you may have undiagnosed diabetes? 


* Gums may become inflamed or bleed a lot


* Food may lose its taste


* You may have less saliva, causing dry mouth and excessive thirst.


* Wounds may heal at a very slow pace


What are some of the problems you should be looking out for?


* Tooth Decay (Cavities) – Your mouth contains many types of bacteria. When sugars and starches in food and drink interact with these bacteria, a sticky film called plaque starts to form on your teeth. The acids in plaque attack the enamel and dentin of your teeth, which can cause cavities. When your blood sugar levels rise, it creates a greater supply of starches and sugars that can start to wear away at your teeth.


* Gum Disease – The risk of gum disease is increased because diabetes can reduce the blood supply to the gums. This can be amplified if you already have poor dental hygiene. Diabetes reduces your ability to fight bacteria. If plaque is not removed from your teeth, it will harden under your gumline. This is called tartar or calculus. The longer this remains on your teeth, the more it irritates your gum tissue. In time your gums will become swollen and bleed easily. This is called gingivitis. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to an even more serious infection called periodontitis. Periodontitis destroys soft tissue and the bone that supports your teeth.  Eventually, this will cause your gums and jawbone to pull away from your teeth with causes them to become loose and possibly fall out.


What can you do to help fight this?


* Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Consider an electric toothbrush for optimal brushing results.


* Manage your diet. Avoid foods that are high in sugar. This will help control your diabetes and your oral health.


* Make sure your dentist is aware of your diabetes. This will help to ensure that you receive the right treatment to best fit your specific needs.


* Schedule regular dental visits. Though most people visit the dentist the recommended 2 times a year, we encourage you to go 3-4 times per year. Many dental insurance companies will even pay for the extra visits for individuals who suffer from diabetes.


At Above and Beyond Dentistry, we offer the best care possible. If you have questions about this article or any dental issues, call us at 815.398.6545 or visit us on the web at


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