Many people overlook their mouth when it comes to their overall health. You may not realise how closely your oral health is linked to the rest of your body. Your mouth is the first point of entry. It will often exhibit the first tell-tale signs of a problem within your body. One disease that has been closely linked to oral health is diabetes.

At Beaches Dental Mona Vale, we aim to help all our patients achieve their optimal oral health and overall wellbeing. Studies have shown a two-way relationship between oral health and diabetes. In this article, we discuss this link and symptoms to watch out for.

Oral Health Issues that Have been Linked to Diabetes

There are many oral health issues linked to diabetes. Let’s explore some of them.

Periodontitis

Periodontitis, also known as gum disease is the most common oral health problem linked to diabetes. It is a chronic, inflammatory disease that can lead to gum and bone recession. Your dentist will be able to pick up signs of periodontitis in a dental check-up. If you don’t treat it, this disease can eventually lead to tooth loss.

Periodontitis can affect your blood glucose levels. Having high blood glucose levels is linked closely to diabetes. People with gum disease can therefore be at a higher risk of developing pre-diabetes and diabetes. Periodontal treatment has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve blood glucose levels.

A few signs of periodontitis to look out for are:

  • Red and swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums 
  • Receding or sore gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Bad breath

Dry Mouth

Having a dry mouth and feeling more thirsty may be a sign of diabetes. Dry mouth can be a result of high blood sugar levels as well as a side effect of some diabetes medications. If diabetes is left uncontrolled it can decrease the production of saliva in your mouth. Decreased saliva can lead to a whole range of oral problems. These may include:

  • Soreness
  • Ulcers
  • Infection
  • Tooth decay

What to do if you experience dry mouth:

  • Prescription medication as recommended by your doctor
  • Chew a sugar-free gum
  • Use a dry mouth gel or mouthwash
  • Drinking enough water
  • Quit smoking

Oral Thrush

Also known as candidiasis. This fungal infection is more common in people with diabetes. Due to reasons such as dry mouth, a decreased immune system and high blood glucose levels. It may appear as creamy white patches in your mouth. It can be kept under control by maintaining your blood glucose levels. You may also need anti-fungal medication as prescribed by your dentist.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is caused by plaque build-up on your teeth. The acid in plaque attacks the surface of your teeth. This can lead to cavities. Plaque is formed by food particles, bacteria and saliva in your mouth that stick to and build up on teeth. By regularly cleaning your teeth and going to the dentist for check-ups you can help avoid tooth decay. However, in people with diabetes, blood sugar levels are much higher. This makes plaque control more difficult. This means diabetes can put you at greater risk of tooth decay.

What Can you Do to Care for Your Oral Health?

Having diabetes means you need to pay extra attention to your oral health. Here are a few things you can do to care for your teeth:

  • Regular brushing (this means at least twice a day)
  • Floss at least once a day
  • Use a fluoride-based toothpaste
  • Chew sugar-free gum
  • Consume a healthy diet
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle (no smoking, limited alcohol)
  • Regularly visit your dentist

All of the above factors can help you to maintain good oral health. If you are doing all of these things routinely and still noticing signs of oral health decline, then you should consult your doctor. It could be a sign of diabetes or another health issue in your body.

Wrapping Up

Oral health is closely linked to diabetes. Symptoms of poor oral health can be a sign of diabetes. It is important to consult your dentist or doctor if you are concerned. If you have diabetes, then taking good care of your oral health is extra important. This is because you are at a greater risk of developing issues related to your mouth and teeth. It is vital that you visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleans.

Make an appointment with one of the dentists at Beaches Dental Mona Vale today to ensure your oral health is in check.