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Diabetes is a medical condition which affects millions of Americans.  Those living with diabetes also have an increased risk of developing certain oral health hazards and diseases.

All forms of diabetes result in high blood sugar levels.  Type 1 diabetes, aka juvenile diabetes, is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and is caused by an inability of the body to produce insulin.  The most common form of diabetes is type 2 diabetes. Type 2 is the result of your body developing an insulin resistance. The body is then unable to produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar in check.  The last type of diabetes is gestational diabetes which affects pregnant women.

The immune system becomes greatly weakened in those that have diabetes which can result in several oral complications.  Periodontal disease should be monitored. Gingivitis, the earliest form of periodontal disease, can be easily treated, but as the disease progresses it can cause the destruction of bone and fibers that hold the teeth in the gums.  Treatment of periodontal disease saves teeth, gums, and research shows that it can also improve the control of blood glucose. Diabetics are also at an increased risk of oral fungal infections. This can include thrush and oral candidiasis.  If you have painful sores or difficulty swallowing it is best to go to your dentist! With a weakened immune system diabetics have a greater risk of infection and slow healing.

If one’s diabetes isn’t controlled, one may develop xerostomia (dry mouth) due to the reduction of saliva flow.  Saliva is essential for removing food between teeth, starting the digestion process and neutralizing the acidity of the food we eat.  Another effect of diabetes is Burning Mouth Syndrome. This syndrome can develop rapidly and feel as if you just burned your mouth.

If you are diagnosed with diabetes it may seem intimidating, but you can live a long, happy, healthy life.  Prevention of oral complications is key! Be sure to consistently monitor and control your blood glucose level, brush at least twice a day, floss once a day, tell your dentist if your gums are sore, quit unhealthy health habits (such as smoking) and come for checkups regularly here at Smiles Unlimited Dentistry, P.C.