How Does Diabetes Affect Oral Health?

Diabetes and gum healthThe effects of chronic illness on your overall health are generally well known, but many people are unaware of the toll these diseases can take on your oral health. The reverse is also true: Tooth decay and periodontal disease can exacerbate certain medical conditions, or they can increase risk of developing other conditions. Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz, a dentist who offers dental prosthetics and gum disease treatment in Astoria, NY, explains the relationship between diabetes and the health of teeth and gums.

Diabetes and Periodontal Disease

Diabetes, which affects as many as 1.3 million New Yorkers, has been shown to compromise gum health. The disease interferes with the body’s ability to heal and recover from infections, including periodontal disease, an infection of the gum tissue that destroys gums, connective tissue, and even the jawbone. As an adult with either Type I or Type II diabetes, awareness of gum disease symptoms is essential. These can include:

  • Swollen gum tissue that is tender or bleeds when you brush or floss
  • An unpleasant taste or odor emanating from the mouth
  • Redness and inflammation (healthy gums are pink and do not appear puffy)

If the infection is allowed to progress, symptoms become less easy to ignore, and damages are irreversible. In its advanced state, the infection is called periodontitis. As the connective tissues beneath the gums are ravaged, teeth may become noticeably loose, or they may no longer fit together as they have before. Eventually, the teeth may fall out altogether.

Obesity and Oral Health

Obesity, which the American Medical Association recently classified as a disease, is a common complication associated with diabetes. In its own right, obesity has been linked to a higher than average number of oral health problems, including tooth decay and tooth loss. These problems most likely stem from a diet high in sugary, fatty, and acidic foods and beverages. An unhealthy diet can also produce symptoms of acid reflux, which can damage tooth enamel and lead to erosion.

The good news is that certain lifestyle changes can produce improvements in all three areas: diabetes management, weight, and oral health. Simple actions like participating in regular physical activity, adopting a more nutritious diet, and taking a proactive approach to oral health and general health can improve quality of life significantly. As for your teeth and gums, you can start by scheduling professional teeth cleaning and a dental exam once every six months, or more frequently if recommended by your dentist.

About your Astoria Dentist

Need a dentist in Astoria, NY? To learn more about our services, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz, contact us at (713) 723-8328. We welcome residents of Astoria, NYC, Queens, upstate New York, and New Jersey.