Thursday, October 9, 2014

Diabetes and Your Mouth

Do you have diabetes?  Do you know your A1C?  Do you know that having diabetes can harm your gums and your teeth?  Not only can diabetes contribute to gum disease and cavities, having gum disease can make diabetes worse. 

An A1C test determines the average amount of sugar in your blood.  In general, consistent results of 5.7 to 6.5 are considered pre-diabetic and 6.5 and over is considered diabetic.  A level of 7 and above is considered uncontrolled. 

Diabetes is an inflammatory disease that affects the whole body and also has an effect on the mouth.  There are many signs of diabetes in the mouth.  Out of control blood glucose levels exaggerate the body’s response to germs that are present in plaque.  This results in inflamed, swollen gums and gum disease may progress very quickly in diabetics.  Germs in the mouth also use sugar as fuel so high blood sugar levels may lead to an increased incidence of cavities.  Dry mouth caused by medications or dehydration can contribute to cavities as well.  Diabetes may also cause thrush, a yeast infection in the mouth.   

The relationship between diabetes and gum disease is very well established.  It is so important to take excellent care of the teeth and gums if you have been diagnosed with diabetes.  If inflammation in the gums is not treated it can be very difficult to control blood glucose levels.  Brushing and flossing as well as regular dental hygiene visits are essential.  Treating other signs of the disease such as dry mouth is also necessary to prevent cavities.  If you have diabetes it is imperative to discuss any oral symptoms with your doctor, dentist and dental hygienist.

To learn more about diabetes, including symptoms and risk factors, visit the American Diabetes Association website where you can take their diabetes risk quiz:

(Like their website says “It takes only 60 seconds and it could save your life!”)

This information is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical or dental condition.  Please see your doctor or dentist for treatment.  You'll feel better and stop worrying!