Though it's commonly known that diabetes can affect organ function and eyesight, an oral-health expert points out that the disease can also cause tooth decay and gum disease.
"Diabetics with uncontrolled glucose levels tend to develop more gum disease and may lose more teeth than diabetics who have good control of their glucose levels," writes Dr. John Novak, associate director of University of Kentucky's Center for Oral Health Research, in an op-ed piece for the Lexington Herald-Leader. A high carbohydrate/sugar diet can also lead to high levels of sugar in the blood, which can hamper the way the body deals with infection, he writes. Gum disease may be the result because the gums are inflamed by the increased levels of bacteria living in the mouth.
Diabetes can also cause dry mouth, which "creates the perfect environment for the growth of bacterial plaque and for fungal infections such as thrush," he writes. To avoid these problems, Novak recommends brushing teeth and gums twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing every day and using fluoride mouth wash before going to bed.
Signs of tooth decay or gum disease include tender gums that bleed easily when brushing or flossing; teeth sensitive to hot or cold temperatures; loose or broken teeth; sores, ulcers or a burning sensation in the mouth; and bad breath or a bad taste. (Read more)