There are two types of diabetes:
Type 1 – This type accounts for around 10% of those who have diabetes and was once formerly referred to as juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes. The body releases insulin, which is the way it absorbs sugar (glucose), which is where the body gets its energy from. With type 1 diabetes the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that release insulin, and in turn, takes away the body’s ability to properly absorb energy producing sugar.
Type 2 – This (obviously) accounts for the other 90% of people who have diabetes and was once formerly referred to as adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes. Even though it is more commonly present in adults (hence the former name), this type is becoming more present in children. Rather than the immune system attacking the insulin within the body, type 2 keeps the body from using the insulin in the right way, which tells the pancreas that the production of insulin simply isn’t necessary. This is insulin deficiency.
So, what does this have to do with your oral health and vice versa? Many things, and here is why both are incredibly important to one another. Poor oral health will, most certainly, impact a person with diabetes, and someone suffering with diabetes is more likely to have periodontal disease.
Here is how it works:
When it comes those with diabetes, they are at a higher risk for gingivitis, which is an inflammation caused by the presence of the bacteria in plaque. Inflammation is a sign of infection and diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to fight infection.
When you feel that sticky film on your teeth, the ones that feel like sweaters, that is plaque, and when it builds up around the gum line it results in gingivitis. Gingivitis can destroy the tissue surrounding the gums, teeth, bone, and fibers. These are the basic ingredients for holding your teeth to your gums.
Are there other problems to worry about? Yes.
Burning mouth syndrome is something that many diabetics experience, which is pain, numbness, or tingling in the mouth. This is also known as “pizza mouth.” We have all burned our mouth trying to believe that “this is the time” that my first bite will be the perfect temperature, but felt the burning-cheesy wrath. However, for someone with diabetes, they feel this pain without the pepperoni goodness, which is caused by bacteria and can lead to fungal infections, such as oral candidiasis and thrush.
Dry mouth is another serious problem when it comes to periodontal disease. Saliva plays a major role on our oral health. It is produced as a means to help clean the mouth naturally by washing away food particles that lead to harmful bacteria.
Some diabetic medications have a side effect of hindering the mouths ability to produce saliva. This leaves your mouth more vulnerable and susceptible to infections that cause inflammation and put your immune system at war with itself. Diabetes and gum disease are a double edged sword, more than often one will affect the other in way that is harmful to your health. Talk to your healthcare provider about the possible side effects of medications you may be taking for diabetes, and help keep your mouth healthy.
What can you do?
Stay healthy by taking extra good care of your oral health, especially if you have diabetes. Someone who has proper control over their diabetes will have a higher chance of avoiding gum disease. With the help of a balanced diet and good dental hygiene, those who are diabetic can control their insulin levels and the overall wellness of their lives.
If you are unsure if your blood sugar is under control, talk to us and your primary physician, we can help get you onto a path that leads to a long life filled with great health. When doing so, make your appointment as early as possible, glucose levels tend to more under control in the mornings than at night. Contact us today and through proper dental care, we can help stop diabetes from having a negative effect on your beautiful smile.