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Diabetes and Your Oral Health

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Diabetes and Your Oral Health

Diabetes (type II) is one of the fastest growing clinical conditions in the western world, one which affects tens of millions of Americans. Statistically, it is extremely likely that either you or someone you know is currently living with some form of diabetes. Diabetes affects your overall health in a number of different ways and if you are currently living with diabetes it is important that you consult with your family physician to ensure you are familiar with the salient concerns for you. However, the purpose of this blog post is to give you an idea of how diabetes might affect your oral health.

periodontal-diseaseOne of the chief oral health concerns for diabetes patients is the increased risk of developing periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums which, if left untreated, can lead to damage of the gums and possibly the jaw bones. Periodontal disease can also lead to profound negative impacts to overall health. For sufferers of diabetes, this is an especially poignant concern as diabetes can increase disease progression due to the impaired immune systems of patients.

Additionally, the inflammation that results from periodontal disease can lead to further complications of diabetics and make maintaining glycemic balance more difficult, decreasing quality of life. To protect against such things, it is very important that individuals with diabetes ensure their oral health by keeping in contact with their dental providers, floss regularly and brush thoroughly. On top of periodontal disease, however, patients should also be watchful of general infections, which might present with redness and irritation. Should you believe that you might be suffering from an oral infection, please schedule an appointment.

salivary-gland-dysfunctionAnother potential issue that diabetics must be cautious of is salivary gland dysfunction. For most patients who experience salivary gland dysfunction, dry mouth will be the result. Chronic dry mouth presents its own complications, which include mouth sores, increased risk of cavities, fungal infections of the mouth, painful chewing and swallowing, cracked lips or skin at the corners of the mouth and an increased risk for gingivitis and periodontitis.

Dry mouth is not the only symptom which might result from salivary gland dysfunction; diabetics suffering from salivary gland dysfunction might also experience an enlargement of the salivary glands or salivary duct stones and even infections. Again, for this reason it is important that you always keep up with your dental health provider to ensure that none of these issues arise or worsen, should they already exist. Many insurers now allow for extra cleanings due to the problems diabetes causes in the mouth and negative impacts gum disease can contribute to overall health.

Sources:
1) Diabetes and Oral Disease: Implications for Health Professionals

[Albert et al., 2012] 2) http://www.aaom.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=87:diabetes-mellitus&catid=22:patient-condition-information&Itemid=120

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