In our previous blog post, we reviewed how maintaining good oral health can help prevent certain diseases and conditions in other parts of the body. This week, we would like to focus on two specific conditions – Type 2 diabetes, or adult onset diabetes, and dementia – and how they may be linked to poor oral health, specifically periodontal (gum) disease. Both of these conditions can directly lead to gingivitis, advanced periodontal disease and periodontitis, a severe gum infection.

Threats To Your Oral Health

Type 2 diabetes and dementia pose different threats to oral health. Type 2 diabetes, or adult onset diabetes, can result in a higher risk for periodontal disease for two primary reasons – certain medications used to treat the symptoms and other conditions brought on by the disease, such as medications used to treat diabetic nerve pain, can cause severe dry mouth, which is associated with a number of oral maladies, and diabetes can also inhibit your body’s ability to fight gum infections caused by bacteria in the mouth. For patients suffering from dementia, their ability to remember daily hygiene routines such as flossing and brushing can directly lead to poor oral health, including gum disease.

Pay Close Attention To Your Oral Health

The first step towards mitigating the effects that both Type 2 diabetes and dementia can have on a patient’s oral health is to be aware of these effects in the first place and subsequently paying closer attention to the overall condition of the teeth and gums. While that may sound obvious, treating Type 2 diabetes can be a time-intensive and sometimes complicated process, while the onset of dementia can be gradual. In either case, paying closer attention to oral health may not be a high priority among either the patient or, in the case of dementia, family members or caretakers who are not full-time attendants.

Do Not Forget About Your Teeth!

The consequences of ignoring oral health can be severe – while the exact nature of the links between periodontal disease and more serious diseases and conditions haven’t yet been established, scientists believe there is a connection between bacteria from the mouth entering the bloodstream due to the gums separating from the teeth. The bacteria from your mouth can then attack major organs in other parts of the body, leading to serious, even life-altering and life-threatening diseases and conditions.