Diabetes and Dental Problems: What’s the Relationship?

Did you know that November is Diabetes Awareness Month? Diabetes is a common disease in Canada; in fact, over 2.7 million Canadians are diabetic. Those that have diabetes cannot adequately produce or respond to a hormone known as “insulin,” which results in elevated levels of glucose in the patient’s blood and urine. So what exactly does diabetes have to do with dentistry? More than most people would expect! Dry Mouth The saliva found in our mouths is helpful in breaking down the food we eat on a daily basis along with aiding in washing away debris leftover after eating. Dry mouth is a common symptom of diabetes, resulting in decreased saliva flow. When saliva flow is decreased in the mouth, food may not properly be broken down, and debris is often left behind in our mouths. The bacteria that inhabit our mouth feed on this debris, creating acid which causes decay. Patients that suffer from dry mouth are known to have increased risks of decay, cavities and even gum disease. Gum Disease Patients that have diabetes often have low white blood cell counts (resulting in a decreased ability to fight infections). Gum disease is the product of bacterial attacks on the gum tissue, frequently resulting in gum infections. Those with diabetes have a harder time fighting these infections, often resulting in the infection progressing and spreading. Burning Mouth Syndrome  For those that have diabetes, burning mouth syndrome is another common problem. Burning Mouth Syndrome is often related to a type of fungal infection known as Thrust. Due to a diabetic’s ability to fight infections (viral, bacterial and fungal), burning mouth syndrome is often more common in these patients. Along with complications diabetes can cause, poor oral health has also been shown to cause complications with diabetes. Bacteria and infection from the mouth can cause diabetes to be more unmanageable and actually increases blood sugar levels. Have you been diagnosed with diabetes? Wondering how it may be affecting your oral health? Contact Willow Park Dental today! We’d be happy to assess your overall oral health to determine if your diabetes is causing any complications.