5 Ways Diabetes Can Ruin Your Dental Health

Diabetes is a serious health condition that requires proper management. If left ignored, this disease can cause many complications and increase your risk of premature death. Here is a list of health issues you can develop if you leave your diabetes untreated:

  • Nerve damage (neuropathy)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Kidney damage (nephropathy)
  • Eye damage (retinopathy)
  • Food damage
  • Skin conditions
  • Hearing impairment
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Depression

But this is not a complete list. Elevated blood sugar levels can also lead to many dental problems. Let's look at five common dental complications caused by unmanaged diabetes:

1. Dry mouth

Saliva is essential for your dental health. It is responsible for the regulation of your mouth's pH levels and the distribution of necessary nutrients to your teeth to protect your enamel. Saliva also manages the levels of bad and good bacteria in your mouth.

Diabetes increases your risk of dry mouth significantly. With high blood sugar levels, your salivary glands can't produce enough saliva to protect your gums and teeth against harmful bacteria.

2. Gum disease (periodontal disease)

Diabetes slows down blood circulation and decreases your ability to fight infections. This is why people with diabetes are more prone to gum disease. The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis.

Untreated gingivitis turns into gum disease. Scientists have found that people with unmanaged diabetes suffer from gum disease more severely than those with well-managed diabetes. The most common symptoms of periodontal disease include:

  • Persistent bad breath
  • Gum recession
  • Loose or shifting teeth
  • Changes in bite or denture fitting
  • Pus between gums and teeth

Diabetes-related periodontal disease can put stress on your immune system. Hence, it is important to start the treatment immediately.

3. Oral thrush

Oral thrush is a yeast infection that provokes gum redness and bleeding, cracks at the corners of the lips, loss of taste, pain during eating and swallowing, and white patches. Oral thrush usually occurs in people with unmanaged diabetes. Occasional oral thrush is common, but it's better to avoid this infection if possible.

A healthy immune system controls this type of fungus. But constant high blood sugar can weaken your immune system causing overgrowth of the fungus.

4. Dental cavities

There are millions of bacteria living in your mouth. When you eat sugar, cavity-causing bacteria digest it and release the acids that remove minerals in your dental enamel. This makes your teeth vulnerable to tooth decay. Having high blood sugar levels can affect your dental enamel as well. This results in more acid and more tooth decay.

5. Burning mouth syndrome

Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is another common complication of diabetes. BMS is usually accompanied by dry mouth. This dental problem is more common in people over the age of 60. Women develop it more often than men. Burning mouth syndrome is characterized by recurrent burning in the mouth without an obvious cause. Symptoms of BMS include:

  • Loss of taste
  • Taste changes in your mouth, like the metallic or bitter taste
  • A burning sensation that affects the tongue, but might also affect the throat, gums, lips, palate, or a whole mouth
  • Increased thirst
  • Tingling or numbness in your mouth

Burning mouth syndrome can affect your sleep and appetite. Talk to your dentist who will develop an effective treatment plan.

With proper oral hygiene and blood sugar control, you can prevent these issues and keep your gums and teeth healthy and strong. It is recommended to brush and floss your teeth twice a day, schedule regular dental visits, look for early signs of gum disease, and give up smoking. These efforts are worth it. 

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Thursday, 28 September 2023