Today, diabetes is one of the most common diseases in the United States, affecting about 29 million people (that is nearly 10% of the entire population!) While the average person has a decent idea of the health risks associated with the disease, a statistic many do not know is that 1 in 5 cases of tooth loss is actually linked to diabetes. How does this work? How can a problem with your blood sugar affect your smile? Today, Dr. Linda Sierra, a dentist in Pasadena, discusses how this condition can negatively affect your teeth.
How Diabetes Can Cause Tooth Loss
One of the most common causes of tooth loss is actually periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease. Basically, if too much harmful bacteria is allowed to build up in the mouth, it can infect your gums and cause them to become red, swollen, and painful. Eventually, it will actually begin to break down the tissue, and over time, it can even deteriorate the bone that is supporting the tooth. This is how it causes tooth loss, and it is extremely common.
Of course, you’re probably saying right now, “I thought we were talking about diabetes?” Gum disease is the link between diabetes and tooth loss.
When a person has diabetes, their elevated blood sugar causes a few key things to happen. Firstly, it reduces the saliva production in the mouth, which is vital to keeping it clean and preventing gum disease bacteria from developing. Secondly, diabetes decreases the gums’ natural ability to fight infections, which is why 22% of the people suffering from diabetes also have gum disease.
This relationship can be cyclical as well. Diabetes can lead to a gum infection, and infections of any kind can cause the blood sugar to rise, which can lead to even worse gum disease, tooth loss, and so on.
What You Can Do About It
Right now, if you are suffering from diabetes, there are a few important things you can do to make sure the condition doesn’t affect your smile.
Firstly, make sure your blood sugar is in control. You can do this by checking it often, watching your diet, and following your doctor’s instructions when it comes to management.
As far as your teeth are concerned, you simply need to brush and floss every day, as well as get regular checkups with your dentist. These are the best ways to control the levels of harmful bacteria in your mouth. Also, be sure to let your dentist know that you have diabetes. That way, they’ll know to keep a closer eye on your gums. Should you develop gum disease in Pasadena, do your best not to ignore it. The sooner you go to see your dentist, the easier it will be to treat.
Diabetes, in no uncertain terms, can be a real problem for your teeth, but by just managing your blood sugar, taking care of your teeth at home, and regularly seeing your dentist, you can keep your smile healthy and beautiful for years to come.
If you have gums that are red, swollen, tender, or bleed whenever you brush your teeth, these are the initial signs of gum disease, so be sure to contact your local dentist right away for treatment.
About the Author
Dr. Linda Sierra is a general, family, and cosmetic dentist based in Pasadena, TX. She is the founder of Sierra Cosmetic and Family Dentistry and has been practicing for nearly 40 years. She, along with her two sons who are also dentists, has been providing a comprehensive array of dental services for the greater Houston area for decades, and she always seeks to educate both herself and her patients so that everyone can have a strong, gorgeous smile. If you’d like more information about the article you just read, she can be contacted through her website or at (713) 943-2094.