Mouth-Body Connection: Dental Health & Diabetes

It’s safe to say that diabetes will have an effect on every area of health in one way or another.

With approximately 29.1 million people in the United States diagnosed with diabetes, this topic has become more and more pertinent in recent years.

Complications from diabetes can range from poor blood circulation to blood vessel damage.The domino effect of common systemic diseases like diabetes is far-reaching. Problems with diabetes have even been connected to dental health.

Not only can untreated diabetes cause disaster for your oral health, but researchers have also noticed that diabetes and oral health problems like periodontal disease share many of the same risk factors. In observance of National Diabetes Awareness Month, Dr. Devang Shah and the staff at Dental Smiles for Johns Creek explain the connection between diabetes and your oral health.

The Impact of Diabetes on Your Health

Did you know that about 1 out of every 11 people in the U.S has diabetes? Diabetes has become such a common problem in this country that most people know a friend or family member that is affected by this systemic disease.

The root problem of diabetes boils down to issues with blood glucose levels. When we consume food, the body turns it into glucose to use for energy. The pancreas is the organ that creates insulin, which helps to get glucose into the body’s cells. When your body doesn’t create any or enough insulin, glucose will build up in your body and cause severe health problems. Some common complications of diabetes include heart disease, kidney failure, amputations, and blindness.

Diabetes can be divided into two different types, which include:

Type 1 Diabetes: Also known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), it typically occurs in young patients (under the age 20) and only accounts for around 5% of all diabetes cases. Type 1 Diabetes occurs when an immune system response leads to the destruction of cells in the pancreas that create insulin.

Type 2 Diabetes: This most common type of diabetes is preventable. It occurs when your body does not use insulin properly. The pancreas will first attempt to make extra insulin to combat the insulin resistance, but it won’t be able to maintain this insulin production to keep normal blood sugar levels.

Type 2 diabetes is detrimental to your well-being because essentially, your cells are being starved of needed energy. The accumulation of sugar in the blood will also deteriorate the health of your eyes, kidney, and heart.

Risk Factors For Diabetes

So, what are some of the risk factors for developing diabetes? Researchers have found it more difficult to define risk factors for type 1 diabetes but agree that autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors influence this type of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes risk factors include the following:

  • Obesity
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Physical Inactivity and diet
  • Older age
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • Race and ethnicity

While there are some genetic factors that leave individuals predisposed to developing type 2 diabetes, there are many controllable factors that can prevent this disease. Some preventative measures include:

Maintaining a Healthy Weight: According to the Obesity Society, approximately 90% of people living with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. Getting to a healthy weight can significantly reduce your chances of developing diabetes.

Exercising: Regular exercise can help patients get to a healthy weight and can help the body use insulin better.

Following a Balanced Diet: Eating a balanced diet will help patients limit unhealthy foods with excess fat or sugar. This will make it easier to maintain a healthy weight and will also help the body maintain a healthy blood glucose level throughout the day.

How Does Diabetes Affect Oral Health?

Most people wouldn’t initially associate diabetes with poor oral health. In truth, these two health concerns are related for a variety of reasons. First off, diabetes and poor oral health are connected because they share common risk factors, including excess weight and an unhealthy diet.

Excess weight can impact oral health because a higher BMI produces higher levels of inflammatory proteins, which can increase the likelihood of developing periodontal disease. A poor diet affects oral health because it often consists of sugar-filled foods that contribute to gum disease and tooth decay.

Diabetes is also related to oral health because when left untreated, it can have disastrous effects on your smile. Diabetes affects oral health in the following ways:

  • Individuals are more susceptible to infections in the mouth
  • Gum inflammation is common
  • Decrease in saliva production; saliva is important for protecting your teeth against decay

Because issues with blood sugar levels make it harder to fight infections, patients living with diabetes are also more likely to develop gum disease. Bacteria harming the gums will then thrive and the condition of the gums will continue to worsen.

If gum disease isn’t treated in a timely manner, patients are then susceptible to tooth loss and jaw bone deterioration. According to the American Dental Association, one in five cases of total tooth loss is linked to diabetes! This is a fact you should be especially aware of if you or someone you know has diabetes and is concerned about their oral health.

Contact Dental Smiles at Johns Creek

Proper self-care, and help from your both your physician and dentist, will help you maintain a healthy smile if you have been diagnosed with diabetes. Whether you have diabetes or not, if you have any dental health concerns, we urge you to seek the help of a dental professional.

Here at Dental Smiles at Johns Creek, we offer a variety of services to best help address any of your specific oral health concerns. To learn more about the dental services we offer, contact our office today to schedule your consultation with Dr. Shah.

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