Smile With Confidence, Even If You Have Diabetes

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Filed Under: Blood Sugar, Diabetes Complications
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Diabetes is a devastating disease that has adverse effects throughout the body. Most people smile with confidenceknow that elevated blood sugar puts you at greater risk for heart disease, vision loss, nerve damage, and impaired kidney function. But people often don’t recognize the link between diabetes and other health problems, including periodontal disease.

According to the CDC, young adults with diabetes have about twice the risk of periodontal disease than those with normal blood sugar levels. People with poorly controlled blood sugar levels are nearly three times more likely to have severe forms of gum disease, and they typically lose more teeth than people without diabetes.

The main culprit behind the increased risk of periodontal disease is damage to blood vessels due to elevated blood sugar levels. Without nourishment and removal of wastes from their tissues, the gums become less resistant to infection, setting the stage for periodontal disease.

Another reason people with diabetes are much more prone to periodontal disease is because glucose is a favorite food of Streptococcus mutans. These bacteria, which reside in the mouth, metabolize sugar in a fermentation process, producing acids that eat through tooth enamel and cause decay.

The best way to lower your risk of developing periodontal disease is to brush and floss every day and visit your dentist on a regular basis. And if you smoke, quit. Statistics show that people with diabetes who smoke and are 45 years or older are 20 times more likely to develop severe gum disease than people who don’t have these risk factors.

Another good strategy is to use xylitol as your preferred sweetener. It looks like sugar and it tastes like sugar, but it’s slowly and only partially absorbed by the body, making it excellent for diabetics. It also is poorly metabolized by S. mutans.

A number of long-term studies have shown that xylitol administered on a regular basis reduces the formation of new dental caries (cavities), halts and even reverses the progression of early decay, and provides continued protection for months to years after use.
 

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