The Dentist and Diabetes

Statistics show that around 1.7 million new people are diagnosed with diabetes every single year in the United States alone. On top of that, over 8.1 million people are living with diabetes and don’t even know it.

Diabetes is a very serious medical condition that affects your body’s ability to process sugar. Though Type I and Type II diabetes exhibit themselves differently inside the body, both lead to high blood sugar levels, which can cause all kind of problems for your eyes, your feet, and even your smile!

Let’s discuss what our mouths can tell us about diabetes, and what diabetes can tell us about our mouths.

(Do you know when you child should visit the dentist for the first time?)

Warning Signs

Because so many people are left undiagnosed with diabetes, it is safe to assume that some of the most common warning signs are easily overlooked. Some of the first warning signs include frequent urination, a sudden drop in weight (despite consistent eating patterns), headaches, and fatigue. These symptoms may go overlooked because people chalk them up to aging. Growing older does affect our hormones in many different ways, and these are all signs of common hormonal imbalances.

The difference between diabetes and hormone imbalances is that when left untreated for too long, diabetes will start to cause even more warning signs, and some of these can be felt within our mouths. These warning signs include intense cases of dry mouth, the inability to taste food, gums that are quick to bleed, more frequent cavities, and even a higher risk of infection.

Diabetes and Gum Disease

Unfortunately, those who have diabetes are exceptionally susceptible to a gum problem called periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is caused from harmful bacterias stuck inside the gum and it slowly damages both the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth.

Periodontal disease is a serious problem for those with diabetes, as the problem is a two-way street. Those with diabetes have poor blood sugar control, which contributes to an increased risk in developing the disease, and likewise, periodontal disease may affect the body’s blood glucose control, thus causing or worsening diabetes.

Diabetes and the Dentist

Research shows that good oral care can either help prevent diabetes from occurring, or lessen the progression of the disease if it is already present. If you have diabetes or periodontal disease, you should work with a dentist to ensure a proper oral hygiene care plan to help you maintain more regular blood sugar levels, and remain in tip-top health!