Diabetes is a disease where the body is unable to produce or use insulin properly. This results in increased sugar levels in the blood. Diabetes can affect many parts of the body, including the teeth and gums. Diabetes disrupts the normal process of digestion. This makes it more difficult for the blood to clot. When blood does not clot, it becomes easier for bacteria to travel through the bloodstream. When bacteria travel through the bloodstream, they can reach other parts of the body, including the gums. Diabetes also affects the nerves and blood vessels. This can leave a person feeling numb and unable to feel pain. As a result, a person with diabetes may not notice when they have a dental issue. This can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental problems.
People with diabetes will have a higher risk of developing gum disease compared to people with no history of diabetes. This is because people with diabetes don’t process sugar very well, which impacts their immune system. If the immune system is weak or compromised, the body is less equipped to fight infections like gum disease. Additionally, severe gum disease can increase blood sugar by affecting the pancreas’ ability to produce insulin.
Due to the high correlation between diabetes and oral health, the American Dental Association encourages dentists to screen all their patients for signs of undiagnosed diabetes.
In the short term, people with diabetes are more likely to suffer from dry mouth and fungal infections. These conditions can lead to gum disease, periodontitis, and even tooth loss. Tooth loss can make it more difficult for diabetics to eat a healthy diet and manage their blood glucose levels.
Gum disease can also make it difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar. This is partly because when gums bleed due to infection, the body releases chemicals that trigger the pancreas to release more insulin. The body will also begin to absorb excess sugar from the blood in an effort to heal itself. This process causes blood sugar levels to spike.
In the long run, untreated gum disease can contribute to heart disease, stroke, and other serious health conditions. For this reason, it’s important for anyone with diabetes to make regular visits to the dentist and practice good oral hygiene at home.
Good hygiene includes brushing twice daily, flossing daily, and staying away from sugary foods and drinks as much as possible. If you are interested in learning more about the connection between diabetes and oral health, please schedule a consultation with our dentist.
To learn more, call Dr. Dizik’s office to schedule your consultation today. Call (650) 348-5424 to book an appointment, or visit us at 720 N El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94401.