Diabetes is a serious disease that affects a huge population of Americans and is even considered as the seventh leading cause of death in the US since 2017. In fact, it has affected about 10.5% or over 34.2 million people in the US; with approximately 210,000 of this are children and adults aged 19 years and below. According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report for 2020 of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the cases of diabetes in the country have increased to an estimated 34.2 million this year.
Common Oral Health Problems Linked to Diabetes
Diabetes is a condition wherein the body becomes incapable of creating or efficiently using its own insulin. Insulin works by helping regulate the blood sugar levels of the body. If left unmanaged, diabetes can give birth to other health conditions such as cardiovascular ailment, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, amputation, and others. But little did we know that diabetes can also affect our oral health. Here are the 5 ways diabetes affects the mouth.
- Tooth cavities
When the level of blood sugar or glucose in the body is high, this also means that the amount of sugar in your saliva is also high. And we all know that the bacteria in the mouth thrive in sugar. These bacteria will digest the sugars from the food you consume, plus the sugar present in your saliva, and creates a sticky film called plaque on your teeth. The plaque will wear away the tooth’s enamel resulting in decay.
Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease. It is characterized by your gums bleeding when brushing and flossing. Many studies were conducted and showed that high blood sugar level worsens gum disease. Aside from that, people with diabetes are at higher risk of developing gum disease because of the weakened immune system. If left untreated, it can wear out the bones that support the teeth resulting in tooth loss and periodontitis.
Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gum disease. During this stage, the soft tissues in the gums and the bones supporting the teeth pull away from the teeth. This can cause the teeth to fall out of their socket. People living with diabetes will have difficulty healing any gum infections, and most of them will end up developing periodontitis. Symptoms of periodontitis include gums pulling away from the teeth, severe bad breath, loose teeth, bite problems, and pus between the gums and teeth.
Thrush, also known as oral candidiasis, is a type of yeast infection characterized by a bitter taste and the development of white patches, redness, soreness, and bleeding in the mouth. Cracks may also form at the corners of the lips. The worst is, thrush is contagious so it is important to seek treatment immediately.
- Dry mouth
Another oral health issue with the risk increased by diabetes is dry mouth. People with diabetes will generally feel extra thirsty. This is due to the medications that they are taking to manage diabetes as well as the high level of glucose in their blood. It is important to stimulate the production of saliva in the mouth when you have diabetes as saliva will help wash away the acids in the mouth.