Check out our updated article The Connection Between Gum Disease and Diabetes
The state of your mouth can show a lot about your health. A simple look into your mouth can reveal facts about your diabetes care and treatment. Find out why your mouth is often referred to as the window to your body’s health.
- The glucose in your saliva builds to high levels if diabetes is not controlled. This helps plaque to grow which can cause tooth decay, cavities and gum disease. Plaque comes from eating foods with starches or sugars. Gum disease takes longer to heal for people with diabetes and can eventually cause multiple complications including heart disease. Minimize your intake of sugary, starchy foods and monitor your blood sugar regularly.
- Red, swollen gums that bleed easily are a sign of gingivitis. This is the first stage of gum disease. Brush and floss your teeth daily. Schedule regular checkups and cleanings at the dentist.
- When gingivitis goes untreated, it can lead to more severe gum disease called periodontal disease. Your gums are red, swollen and bleed with possible pus between your teeth and ongoing bad breath. The gums start to pull away from your teeth, leaving pockets below the gum line that get infected. This can destroy your gums, bones, tissues and teeth. Teeth might become loose and move away from each other. Schedule a deep cleaning at your dentist and see if you need medicine like antibiotics or gum surgery.
- Thrush is the growth of a naturally occurring fungus your body cannot control. Signs include sore red or white patches on your gums, cheek, tongue or the roof of your mouth that turn into open sores. Schedule an appointment with a doctor or dentist to get prescription medicine. Dentures that fit poorly might need to be fixed.
- People with diabetes may get dry mouth referred to as xerostoma. There is a lack of saliva in your mouth which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Symptoms include a dry feeling in your mouth, cracked lips and sores or infection in your mouth. You might have problems eating, chewing and talking. Drink water frequently and steer clear of salty and spicy foods. Sugarless gum can increase the saliva in your mouth. Stay away from alcohol and smoking. Use an oral rinse such as Biotene mouth wash or other Biotene products to increase the flow of saliva. Turn on a humidifier in your bedroom at night.
- Burning mouth syndrome is a painful oral problem that is linked to dry mouth, poor diet, nerve damage, hormone fluctuations and dentures that hurt. Signs include a dry or burning mouth with a bitter taste. If you have these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor or dentist.
- Studies show a link between periodontal disease, vascular function and cardiac disease. People with diabetes are already at an increased risk for heart problems. Use a blood pressure monitor to check your blood pressure at home. Keep diabetes symptoms under control and visit your dentist regularly for teeth cleanings.
Research has shown maintaining a healthy mouth can add ten years to your life. What happens in your mouth also offers telltale signs about your diabetes care. Exercise good oral hygiene habits and visit your doctor and dentist every few months for routine exams.