Diabetes can wreak havoc on every system in the body, not just the endocrine system. If you have diabetes, your oral health will be affected as well. In fact, diabetics are more prone to gum disease. Here is what you should know about your teeth and diabetes.
Why Is Gum Disease More Prevalent In Diabetics?
The saliva in your mouth contains glucose, or sugar. This is true in everyone, not just diabetics. However, a diabetic has high levels of glucose. This is especially true when the diabetes isn't well controlled. The bacteria in your mouth feed off of sugar, and when there is more sugar, there is more food. This leads to more bacteria, creating a vicious circle.
What Do These Bacteria Do?
The bacteria in your mouth combine with food residue to create a sticky substance called plaque. There are different types of plaque. Some types will cause halitosis, or bad breath. Other types will cause tooth decay and cavities. Still other types of plaque will cause gum disease. When gum disease begins, it can lead to tooth loss.
What Are The Types Of Gum Disease?
Gum disease initially presents itself as gingivitis. This is when plaque builds up and the gums become red and swollen. They will often bleed when the teeth are brushed. If a visit is made to the dental hygienist at this point, a through cleaning can remove the plaque. As long as the diabetic makes a concrete effort to practice better oral hygiene at home moving forward, gum disease can be arrested.
However, if the plaque is not removed or oral hygiene continues to be insufficient, gingivitis will often progress to periodontal disease. The plaque will completely harden into a substance called tartar. This makes it even harder to brush and floss the teeth. The gums will eventually recede. When they pull away from the teeth, pockets are formed. These pockets allow bacteria to collect. The plaque continues to form, moving below the gum line.
The body's response to this bacterial invasion and inflammation can cause the diabetic's blood sugar to rise. The bacteria are busy breaking down the bone that, coupled with the gums, hold the teeth in.
What Are The Risks Of Gum Disease?
In addition to losing your teeth and elevating the blood sugar, gum disease causes inflammation in the body. This inflammation is believed to play a role in heart disease. Everyone should see their dentist and hygienist regularly, but it is especially important for diabetics, especially if their diabetes isn't controlled.
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