Diabetes and Dental Health – A Two Way Street

by:  Susan Klick, MSN, RN, CNL

Did you know that the risk of oral health problems for diabetics can be up to three times that of patients without diabetes

Having diabetes increases the rate at which the condition progresses. But the problems run both ways – poor oral health increases the risk of poor blood glucose control and the development of diabetes complications. Oral health diseases include:

  • Periodontal disease (gum disease).
  • Xerostomia (dry mouth).Tooth-1024x987
  • Tooth Loss.
  • Dental caries (cavities) and abscesses.
  • Oral candidiasis (thrush).
  • Oral lichen planus (an inflammatory condition causing painful lesions)
  •  Burning mouth syndrome.

Warning signs of periodontal disease may include: bad breath, or a bad taste in your mouth that won’t go away; red or swollen gums; tender or bleeding gums; painful chewing; loose or sensitive teeth; gums that have pulled away from the teeth; any change in the way teeth fit together when biting down or any change in the fit of partial dentures.

Tobacco use promotes periodontal disease and delays healing. Poor nutrition, such as diets rich in carbohydrates and with high sugar content has a negative effect on oral health. Other risk factors include poor general hygiene in general, stress, heredity, crooked teeth, an immune deficiency, defective fillings, medications that cause dry mouth, ill-fitting bridges, hormonal changes, and bulimia.

Good blood glucose control is key to controlling and preventing mouth problems. People with poor blood glucose control experience gum disease more often and more severely than people whose diabetes is well controlled. Daily brushing and flossing, regular dental checkups every six months and good blood glucose control are the best defense against the oral complications of diabetes.

Keep your mouth and teeth healthy and keep smiling!




Today’s Dietitian March 2015



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