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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 34.2 million diabetics in the United States —or just over one in 10 people. Diabetes can lead to various concerns over the course of a person's life, so for American Diabetes Month, we will take a look at how the condition can affect your dental health.
High blood sugar can have a negative impact on your whole body, your teeth and mouth included. Depending on how high your sugar levels are, you risk falling prey to the following problems:
1. Gingivitis (Early Gum Disease)
A major attribute of diabetes is that it reduces your body's ability to fight bacteria. If you combine the situation with poor dental hygiene - lack of regular brushing and flossing, bacteria will build upon your gum line and form what's known as tartar. The longer this remains untreated, the likelier you are to get gingiva as your gums become swollen and bleed easily, causing gingivitis.
2. Tooth decay/cavities
As mentioned earlier, your mouth contains several forms of bacteria. When you eat, starch and sugars will interact with the bacteria and form plaque on the teeth, which contain acids. The acids can eliminate the enamel and dentin, leading to gum diseases and cavities. A high blood sugar level will only hasten the process as your mouth is likely to get more acid out of every bite you consume.
3. Advanced gum disease/Periodontitis
When you let gingivitis go untreated for longer periods, you will likely develop a serious infection called periodontitis, which destroys the bone and soft tissue that supports your teeth. The longer this goes on, your jawbone and gums will pull away from the teeth, making your teeth loosen and fall out.
You may develop several other conditions, including xerostomia or dry mouth, or thrush in some cases, which is a fungal infection that appears in the form of white or red patches in your mouth.
Thus, it is advisable to maintain good dental hygiene, especially if you have diabetes or have a prior history of it in your family.