As science advances, we're learning more about how oral health is connected to our overall physical health. One such way is in how the health of our teeth and gums is indicative of the onset of diabetes. Research has found that poor oral health can present early warning signs of the development of diabetes, as well as showing that diabetes also affects the health of your gums and teeth.
If diabetes runs in your family, you should already be aware that you may develop the illness as well. Early warning signs that you may have it include feeling excessively thirsty, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, and extreme fatigue. Sometimes, these symptoms may go unnoticed or the individual may not attribute any significance to the symptoms.
This means diabetes can often go undiagnosed and untreated, until a routine check-up identifies the condition. Before this occurs, declining oral health can give you additional clues as to the development of this medical condition. For instance, the reason you will feel thirsty more often is because your mouth is producing less saliva. In turn, lower levels of saliva mean that tooth decay will become more likely and you'll develop more cavities.
Other oral health signs of diabetes include an inability to taste food and frequently inflamed and/or bleeding gums. If you have wounds in your mouth, it will likely take longer for them to heal. You may also develop more oral infections that can affect the overall health of your mouth, causing gum disease and tooth decay to develop more rapidly.
It's important to understand how gum disease develops. Everyone has millions of tiny bacteria thriving in their mouths, which is why proper oral care is so vital. When you don't practice proper oral hygiene, that bacteria can nestle in the gums and cause periodontal disease to develop. When gum disease is left untreated, it can become a chronic condition, which will result in the destruction of your gums, teeth, and can even affect your jawbone.
Almost 22% of all diabetic patients experience periodontal disease to one degree or another. This is because poorly managed blood sugar levels present greater danger to the gums. It makes the individual more susceptible to gum disease, because of their inability to keep their blood sugar at more tolerable levels.
In return, gum disease is an infection that causes inflammation, which causes spikes in blood sugar. This creates a cycle in which the higher blood sugar levels worsen the gum disease and the gum disease forces the body to raise the blood sugar levels. This makes both diabetes and oral health more difficult to control.
As this information indicates, taking better care of your teeth and gums should be considered an essential part of living a healthier lifestyle. Better oral care can help you manage your diabetes, so consult your dentist about what you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy. This may include brushing and flossing additional times each day, wearing a guard to prevent grinding your teeth at night, and rinsing with mouthwash after each meal. There are many dietary changes you can make as well, so also consult your doctor to express your concerns about how your diabetes may be affecting your oral health.