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The link between diabetes and gum disease

Photo Credit: Peshkova/iStock Photo

Some chronic illnesses can increase the risks of many other problems in the body. Diabetes is such an illness, which compromises the functioning of many organ systems in the body. Diabetes is a chronic illness in which the blood sugar is not properly regulated such that glucose levels remain high in the blood stream. The effect of this extra sugar is that it causes damage to the nerves of the body and also compromises the effectiveness of the circulatory system. Since our cells and tissues rely on the proper functioning of both the nerves and blood supply, it is easy to understand then why diabetes affects a multitude of systems.

Diabetes actually increases the chances of having problems in the mouth since the high blood glucose affects the tissues of the mouth such as the gum, and even impacts the teeth as well (

Oral and dental problems due to high blood sugar

The increased sugar in the saliva can actually trigger an overgrowth of the bacterial fauna in the mouth. This tends to increase the formation of plaque on the teeth and gums. Plaque is sticky and adheres to the outer surfaces of teeth and also adheres to crevices between the teeth. Brushing well and also flossing regularly are therefore important parts of oral and dental health care. If plaque is not removed properly it can cause serious inflammation of the gums, a condition called gingivitis, which can worsen to become periodontal disease.

Gingivitis and periodontal disease are indicated by the presence of bleeding and irritated gums. In the case of advanced disease, the teeth will become loose and may even fall out.

Oral candidiasis is also known as oral thrush, and this is when there is an overgrowth of yeast in the mouth. Other illnesses such as AIDS and other immune system problems can lead to candidiasis, but it is also common in people with poorly controlled diabetes. Yeast is a living organism that is found in the human body along with many different bacterial species. In healthy individuals, the bacteria help to control the growth of the yeast so that it does not become a problem. When there is some type of bacterial imbalance or illness such as diabetes, the yeast can grow out of control. Yeast feeds on sugar which is why an excess of glucose in the body can lead to too much yeast.

Diabetics also often have dry mouth and less saliva which also increases their risk of tooth decay since the saliva contains enzymes which help to kill bacteria in the mouth.

If you do have diabetes then it is essential that you get your disease under control and visit a dentist or dental clinic to see what options are available if you do find that you are having problems with your mouth and teeth. The dentists can give advice and treatments including filling cavities and offering root canals, dental crowns or dental implants if needed.

augusta free press
augusta free press