Diabetes and your oral health may not seem to be connected, but they are. Having uncontrolled diabetes can boost your risk for oral health problems such as gum disease. Most experts also believe that if you have gum disease, it may make it harder to keep blood sugar levels under control. The diabetes and oral health link is a two-way street.
Taking care of your gums may be one of the best things you can do for your health if you have diabetes. Poorly controlled diabetes is recognized as a major risk factor for gum disease, but growing research suggests that untreated gum disease makes diabetes worse.
Having diabetes can make it harder to fight off infection, including gum infections that can lead to serious gum disease. You are also at risk for fungal infections in the mouth, called oral candidiasis or thrush. Another common problem among people with diabetes is dry mouth, called xerostomia. Saliva is important to oral health, it helps wash away food particles and keep the mouth moist. When you don’t have enough saliva, bacteria thrive, tissues can get irritated and inflamed, and your teeth can be more prone to decay.
Nearly 21 million Americans have diabetes, and it is believed that nearly a third have severe gum disease with significant loss of gum attachment to teeth.
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