Having a sweet tooth makes your teeth sweet!

According to the International Diabetes Federation, 1 in 10 adults are now living with diabetes, estimating an astonishing 537 million adults around the world!  As many of us know, high levels of sugar in our blood harms our kidneys, heart, nerves, eyes and other organs.  But did you know that it also makes your teeth sweet?  Literally! High sugar in your blood causes a high sugar level in your saliva as well, which ultimately ends up in your teeth.  This increases your chances of gum disease, dry mouth, cavities and a host of other oral health conditions brought on by elevated sugar levels.

Here at the Senior Dental Center, our whole person care includes addressing any oral health conditions resulting from diabetes.  We test A1C levels for new patients to identify blood sugar level irregularities and test it routinely for patients with diabetes.

Oral Health Conditions Stemming from Diabetes

To keep your mouth healthy, it is important to be aware of oral health conditions associated with diabetes.  For those who don’t suffer from diabetes, these conditions can also be early indicators of high blood sugar, so be on the lookout!

Gum Disease (periodontal disease)

Gum disease occurs when there is an infection in the gums surrounding the tooth.  Not only does this damage the gum, but it can lead to bone loss in the teeth.  Pain, inflammation, bad breath and chewing difficulties can also be signs of gum disease.

Treatment:  With medication and deep cleaning provided by your dentist, gum disease can be treated.  In severe cases, gum surgery may be needed.

Dry Mouth (xerostomia)  

High blood sugar levels or diabetes medication could cause dry mouth.  When salivary glands aren’t producing enough saliva, your mouth can be left feeling uncomfortably dry and could lead to bad breath, a burning feeling in your mouth, difficulties chewing, swallowing or speaking, sores or infections in the mouth.

Treatment:  Although prescribed medication is available to help treat dry mouth, there are other things you can do to treat it:

  • Chew gum – Sugarless gum or mints increase saliva flow in your mouth.
  • Drink water – Keeping your mouth wet prevents it from getting dry! So what better way to do that than staying hydrated?
  • Avoid smoking, caffeine, and alcoholic beverages
  • Avoid spicy or salty foods that could lead to pain

Thrush (candidiasis)

Untreated dry mouth, can lead to a fungal oral infection called thrush.  Thrush allows the uncontrollable growth of a fungus that occurs naturally in your mouth.  Along with soreness in the mouth, white – or sometimes red – patches appear on your gums, tongue, cheeks, or roof of your mouth.  Some of these patches may turn into open sores.

Treatment:  Your dentist can provide medication that will help eliminate the fungus.  Additionally, properly cleaning your dentures and soaking them in the appropriate prescribed medication, will help keep the fungus from returning.

Our body is all connected, we can’t treat any part of it in isolation.  Treating each part of our body contributes to our overall wellness.  Eating healthy, exercising daily, and caring for our body are things that should become like second nature to ensure that we live long, healthy lives.