Could your diabetes be causing you dental problems?

By Chie Li Ee, DMD & Chrissy Boothroyd

If you are one of the 29 million Americans with diabetes, you may be surprised to find that the answer is “Yes”.  You can add periodontal (gum) disease to the list of other possible complications from diabetes, such as heart disease, kidney disease, eye disease and stroke.  Not only are diabetics more likely to have gum disease, but severe gum disease can also affect your blood sugar levels.  If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you are 3 – 4 times more likely to develop periodontal disease.

Some of the factors that are linked to increased risks of periodontal disease are as follows:

  • The main cause of periodontal disease is bacterial plaque. Toxins produced by the bacteria irritate the gums and cause infection. Diabetics are generally more susceptible to infection and less able to fight germs that invade the gums.
  • Excess body fat may produce chemicals that cause the gums to be more inflamed.
  • Damage to blood vessels in the gums can reduce blood supply which limits the immune response.
  • Wound healing is impaired, so healing of the gums is reduced.
  • Uncontrolled blood sugar levels. If your A1C is greater than 8.5, your risk of periodontal disease is much greater.

Some other possible oral conditions that can occur if you have diabetes are oral thrush, dry mouth and complications after oral surgery. Although you may not be able to prevent these conditions, your dentist can help you minimize the effects.  There are steps that you can take to help prevent some of the dental problems associated with diabetes; controlling your blood sugar, good home care of your teeth and gums and regular cleanings and check-ups at least every six months.  Tell your dentist if you have been diagnosed with diabetes and any medications you may be taking.  Your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings and check-ups.  The oral cavity is the gateway to the rest of your body and should not be over looked when evaluating one’s overall health.  So the next time you think about cancelling your dental appointment or are too tired to floss, think about how you could be affecting your body.  Cape May Dental Associates is welcoming new patients and always offers comprehensive and thorough dental care.  Call (609) 884-5335 or visit today for more information!