The Connection Between Diabetes and Oral Health

As scientists and researchers discover more about the connection between oral health and overall vitality, we would like to provide our patients insight into how diabetes affects your oral hygiene and overall health. Dr. James Fondriest strives to continually educate his patients, especially patients with certain conditions and special needs. Below are some commonly asked questions about diabetes and oral health posted by our staff at Lake Forest Dental Arts.

How does diabetes affect my dental health?

Diabetics have weakened immune systems. This is because uncontrolled blood sugar levels affect white blood cells. White blood cells are the body’s defense against infection and disease. A weakened immune system means that it takes longer for diabetics to heal from wounds or infections. Unhealthy blood glucose levels also increase acidity and sugar levels in the mouth. This environment is especially unhealthy for tooth enamel, making diabetics even more vulnerable to tooth decay and cavities. In fact, diabetics are 20% more likely to lose teeth in adulthood than patients who don’t have diabetes. Diabetic patients also produce less saliva and suffer from dry mouth. Saliva helps your mouth dilute harmful particles and keep teeth clean in between times of brushing.

Are diabetics more likely to suffer from gum disease?

Yes, there is quite a bit of evidence that supports an increased incidence of gum disease in diabetics, especially periodontitis. Lack of saliva creates an environment for plaque and tartar buildup. If buildup isn’t removed by flossing and professional cleanings, it can infect and inflame the gum line. Advanced gum disease can erode the soft tissues of the mouth, teeth, and facial bones.

If I have diabetes, what should I do?

Most importantly, diabetics should control their blood glucose with a healthy diet, an active lifestyle, and regular treatment recommended by their doctor. In addition, diabetics should brush their teeth thoroughly at least twice a day, floss daily, and use an antiseptic mouth rinse. Diabetics should visit the dentist for routine checkups and cleanings at least every six months. Dr. Fondriest would like to encourage his diabetic patients to openly discuss their health with him and communicate any new symptoms or changes in oral health with our caring staff. To schedule a dental cleaning or examination, contact our Chicago dentist office at (847) 234-0517. We serve the North Shore neighborhood, Glen View, Highland Park, Winnetka, and the surrounding Chicago communities.