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3150 North Elm Street, Suite 210
Greensboro, NC 27408
336-286-9897

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Greensboro Dental Clinic, Dr. Margaret Szott

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November 14th, 2019

Diabetic Effects and the special care of your teeth - When you have diabetes, high blood sugar can take a toll on your entire body, including your teeth and gums. #worlddiabetesday

Did you know that more than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes and 1 in 4 of them don’t know they have it?  Also more than one third of all US adults have prediabetes, 90% of which is undiagnosed.  Diabetes is a disease that can affect the whole body.   When the blood sugar is poorly controlled, the main defense mechanism against bacterial infections (white blood cells) is weakened.    In fact, people with diabetes face a higher than normal risks of oral health issues including tooth decay, dry mouth, gingivitis / periodontitis, and thrush.  

Tooth decay

Dental plaque is a clear sticky film that coats your teeth if not properly removed after meals.  When sugars and starches are left on your teeth, the naturally-occurring bacteria in your mouth begin to feed on  them and form plaque. A higher blood sugar level equates to a greater amount of sugar and starches available for bacteria to cause cavities and gum disease.  

Uncontrolled diabetes can also decrease salivary flow, resulting in dry mouth.  Common symptoms of dry mouth include bad breath, chapped lips, and waking at night feeling thirsty.  When there is no saliva in the mouth to naturally rinse the teeth and gums, soreness, ulcers, and infections can develop.  

Gingivitis and Periodontitis 

Gum disease is caused by plaque and tartar irritating the gums around the base of your teeth.  If left unattended, your gums will become swollen and bleed easily.  This isknown as gingivitis. Periodontitis occurs when gingivitis is left untreated and starts to destroy the bone that support your teeth.  Because diabetes weakens the white blood cells that fight infection, those with the disease are at a greater risk for more advanced gum disease.  For this reason, it is especially important for diabetics to seek proper dental care and maintain good oral hygiene at home.  

Thrush

Thrush is a fungal infection or yeast caused by Candida Albicans  is common in diabetics who take antibiotics for various infections.   The fungus flourishes on the high glucose levels in the saliva of people with uncontrolled diabetes. Symptoms of thrush include painful white or red patches inside the mouth. The presence of thrush can also lead to a burning mouth and/or tongue. 

Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, managing your blood sugar is key for protecting your oral and overall health.   To help prevent damage to your teeth and gums, commit to managing your diabetes and brush and floss your teeth daily.  Lastly, schedule your regular dental visits and make sure your dentist is aware of your condition so that he or she can properly monitor your oral health in conjunction with your physician. 

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3150 North Elm Street
Suite 210
Greensboro, NC 27408
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336-286-9897