Link Between Tooth Health and Diabetes

Link Between Teeth and Diabetes?

( – Most folks are aware of the impact diet has on diabetes: eating right and cutting back on sugar and carbohydrates helps improve blood sugar numbers. But there’s a little-known fact about diabetes being linked to poor dental health.

Over eight million people are living with type II diabetes who don’t know it, according to the American Diabetes Association. But some facets of poor dental health might predict if you’re at risk for developing type II diabetes at some point in your future.

Diabetes and the Dental Circle

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), 22% of people with diabetes will experience severe periodontal disease during the course of their diabetes. Periodontal disease may cause infection and inflammation, which can elevate blood sugar numbers. Higher blood sugar numbers lead to a higher risk of infection — and it can become a vicious cycle that may be difficult to control.

However, Dr. Yoonkyung Chang, a clinical assistant professor of neurology at Ewha Woman’s University Mokdong Hospital in South Korea, believes that poor oral hygiene may be related to the inflammatory process, leading to chronic inflammation that might increase blood sugar numbers consistently enough that someone who is already prone to diabetes might end up needing to be treated for it.

Dental Disease Is a Diabetes Warning Sign

Could you be one of those eight million who have diabetes and don’t know it? If so, stop and ask yourself if you have any of the following problems:

    • Gingivitis — This is an early stage of gum disease that is easier to treat than to diagnose. Your dentist or oral health provider can differentiate the various types of gum disease.
    • Periodontitis — An infection that has gotten into the gums and the root of the teeth, it causes damage to the bone and the part of the tooth that keeps its root in the gums. Periodontitis can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss, as well as infection and inflammation.
    • Chronic Dry Mouth — If you’re thirsty, constantly swallowing or needing to swish water in your mouth, this might be your problem. It can cause your mouth to feel cottony and dry. This is a potential sign of high blood sugar, as well as a risk factor for periodontal disease.
    • Chronic Thrush — A type of yeast, thrush is a painful infection of the mouth and throat. It can cause white or yellow patches on the gums, tongue and inner cheeks.
    • Chronic Bad Breath/halitosis — Ask a friend or loved one to honestly let you know if you have bad breath. It’s easier to smell someone else’s breath than your own. Bad breath can be a warning sign of diabetes in some people.
    • Chronic Toothache from Infection.
    • Loss of Teeth.

While these dental conditions don’t necessarily mean you have diabetes, they are all problems that diabetics have when their blood sugar is not well-controlled. So if you’re having any of these symptoms, you might be at risk of either having or developing diabetes.

If you have any of these symptoms, consult your dentist. But you might also consider consulting your family doctor about testing your blood sugar. Your teeth might predict or even contribute to the development of type II diabetes.

~Here’s to Your Healthy Pursuits!

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