Did you know that at any given time, your mouth has more bacteria in it than there are people on the planet? These bacteria, if left alone, can cause a myriad of oral health problems, but most people can keep them at bay with a regimen of good oral hygiene and regular checkups with the dentist. Patients who have diabetes, however, have a much greater risk of seeing these bacteria develop into problems like decay, gum disease, or fungal infections because the disease lowers their resistance to infections. If you have diabetes, or know someone who does, and would like to learn more about its link with oral health, call our Docklands dental office at (03) 9021-9487.

How Diabetes Can Affect Oral Health

People with diabetes may experience several types of health problems, including issues with the eyes, kidneys, and heart. These patients have a higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, and have a greater susceptibility to infections. When not controlled through diet or medication, diabetes can also lead to several oral health problems. Patients with high blood sugar become more susceptible to tooth decay, and may suffer from salivary gland dysfunction, which results in a decreased flow of saliva. Some diabetic medications can cause a reduction of saliva as well, causing a condition known as dry mouth to occur. Diabetic patients may develop several types of oral fungal infections as a result of the disease decreasing the body’s ability to fight infections. Patients may also suffer from other oral infections, and experience a delay in healing.

Gum Disease and Diabetes

One of the most prevalent dental problems for diabetics, gum disease, affects over 20 percent of all people who have the disease. Gum disease and diabetes can have direct effects on each other, making both difficult to control. As patients diagnosed with diabetes become more susceptible to infections, their risk of developing gum disease increases as well. The first stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, results from a buildup of dental plaque due to poor brushing and flossing habits. A diabetics high blood sugar levels will increase the risk for plaque buildup and require extra vigilant brushing and flossing on the patient’s part to keep it at bay. Gingivitis causes the gums to become red and swollen, and the patient may see some bleeding of the gums when you brushing and flossing. It has been shown, however, that regular brushing and flossing, along with attending dental cleanings, will usually clear up gingivitis.

When not properly controlled through good dental hygiene, gingivitis can develop into the more serious stage of gum disease, called periodontitis. This stage develops when plaque builds up under the gum line and hardens. The gums pull away from the teeth, allowing pockets of infection to form, which can lead to bone loss in the jaw and, eventually, the loss of teeth.

Unfortunately, diabetes unique relationship with gum disease means that one condition can lead to the other. While the high blood sugar present in diabetics can cause gum disease, the disease itself causes a spike in the production of blood sugars, which puts diabetics, who already have elevated levels of blood sugar, at an even greater risk for other health problems. It may also lead to the development of diabetes in some patients who have not been diagnosed with the disease.

Call Our Office Today

If you want to learn more about how diabetes can affect your oral health, or make an appointment with one of our dentists, call our Docklands dental office today at (03) 9021-9487.