Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes, including many Hendricks County inhabitants. If you have diabetes, you may be surprised to learn that diabetes and oral health are interconnected. In fact, people with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal (gum) disease and oral infections like oral candidiasis and thrush than people who don’t have diabetes.

What Causes the Diabetes and Oral Health Connection?

If your blood sugar is not controlled, you’re more likely to develop oral health issues. High glucose levels in your saliva enable bacteria to thrive. These bacteria make acids which attack your teeth, causing tooth decay. Additionally, bacteria are found in plaque, a sticky film, that accumulates on your teeth and gums. If plaque isn’t removed by tooth brushing, it can harden into tartar. As tartar collects above and below the gum line, it can create conditions that lead to chronic inflammation and infection in the mouth.
Additionally, uncontrolled diabetes can weaken your white blood cells, thus reducing your body’s ability to resist infections. Since your body is not able to fight bacteria that invade your gums, you’re more likely to develop serious gum disease.
However, the diabetes and oral health connection is even more complicated. Research suggests that serious gum disease may affect your blood sugar levels. Therefore, you may find it harder for you to control your diabetes.

How Can You Prevent Oral Health Problems Associated with Diabetes?

Some steps you can take to control your diabetes and the development of gum disease or infection include:

  • Control your blood glucose level.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day.
  • If you wear dentures, remove and clean them daily.
  • Schedule regular checkups every six months at Danville Family Dentistry, located in Hendricks County. Make sure to tell Dr. Jon Erickson that you have diabetes, so he can monitor your oral health.
  • Ask Dr. Erickson if you should use an antimicrobial mouth rinse to control gingivitis.
  • See Dr. Erickson immediately if you notice any signs of gum disease, such as red, swollen, or tender gums; gums that bleed easily; or gums that have pulled away from your teeth.

By following these tips, you can reduce your risk of developing gum disease or other oral infections – and potentially slow your progression of diabetes. When you understand the potential issues between your diabetes and oral health, you can take preventative measures to help ensure your smile stays healthy.