What Effect Can Diabetes Have on Oral Health?

Diabetes can have a tremendous impact on any patient’s oral health, explains Monmouth County dentist Dr. Randee Gevertz DMD. In fact, recent studies have shown a link between a number of systemic diseases and the health of the mouth. A number of immune responses, including heart disease and cancer, have also been linked to dental hygiene.

Of course, few links have been shown to be stronger than the correlation between diabetes and gum disease. Countless studies have shown an increased prevalence of gum disease among those with diabetes, but that does not mean that one of these conditions necessarily causes the other. Dr. Gevertz emphasizes that a link—as opposed to a cause—is a two-way street, meaning that dentists do not think that having gum disease necessarily causes a person to get diabetes.

In the past, members of the medical and dental communities were hesitant to bring up connections between the mouth and the rest of the body. However, over the past five years, the medical community has finally begun waking up and realizing that these connections do exist, says Dr. Gevertz. When a patient has a problem in his or her mouth, that infection or inflammation can easily transition to become a problem in the rest of the body as well.

Diabetes, meanwhile, is an immune response disease, explains Dr. Gevertz, which means that periodontal disease and gum disease have to be a part of the big picture whenever a dentist is reviewing a patient’s overall oral health. If a patient has an inflammation in any area of the body, then that is not healthy. Whether or not the inflammation is in mouth specifically is not a factor, explains Dr. Gevertz.

When a patient has a gum disease, that unhealthy infection can travel through the entire body. That is part of the reason why dentists are so insistent that patients with gum disease begin the treatment process as quickly as possible –  because doing so will increase their chances of staying healthy in the rest of the body too.

To maintain a healthy mouth and a healthy body, Dr. Gevertz says that she can’t emphasize enough the importance of good oral hygiene. Visiting the dentist regularly is imperative for anyone hoping to maintain good oral health, as is maintaining a healthy diet.

The foods that a person puts in his mouth can affect his whole body. Although scientists have not yet proven that there is a direct correlation between gum disease and a poor diet, Dr. Gevertz says that a healthy body equals a healthy mouth.

Dr. Gevertz considers herself a very holistic person, which is why she tries to eat a balanced diet full of organic fruits and vegetables. This, however, is not necessary for every person. At the bare minimum, she suggests that people focus on eating a diet full of fruits, vegetables, and fiber. Drinking a lot of water is also a good way to improve oral hygiene and overall health. Rather than drinking soda, which Dr. Gevertz says is a “wicked” substance that can actually dissolve teeth, people should try to drink as much water each day as possible.

By avoiding sugary sodas and cigarettes and eating well, people can decrease their chances of developing diabetes. At the same time, patients can increase their chances of maintaining healthy mouths that are free of gum disease, along with other problems that could compromise their immune systems, by maintaining good oral hygiene and making sure to brush and floss each day.

*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

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