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How do Diabetes, Hypertension, and Obesity Affect Your Oral Health?

April 30, 2015

Filed under: General Dentistry — Tags: , , — pontevedra @ 9:18 pm

Did you know the CDC reports that more than 29 million American suffer from diabetes? Did you know that another 86 million Americans suffer from pre diabetes? That is nearly one in three Americans! Additionally, over 70 million Americans have hypertension. Finally, the NIH states that more than 35% of Americans are obese. What this means is that there is a very high probability that you or someone you love suffers from one of these three medical problems. At Ponte Vedra Complete Dentistry, we are dedicated to not only providing the highest quality dental care to our patients but also to educating all within reach about oral health issues that we feel are important. Today we will tackle some serious oral health implications tied to the presence of these three maladies.


There are two main types of diabetes; type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes was previously known as juvenile diabetes and comprises only 5% of the population with diabetes. Type 2 diabetes has multifactorial origins. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include excess weight, inactivity, family history, race, age, prediabetes, and a myriad of other factors. Today we will focus on type 2 diabetes but many of the concepts and dangers between the two forms are the same.

For numerous reasons, diabetes can create serious systemic health complications. In addition to this, oral health can be significantly compromised from the presence of diabetes. Advances in recent decades have provided the dental profession with amazing levels of knowledge regarding oral health and diabetes. At the same time, the medical community has recognized the importance of a partnership with the dental profession to treat diabetic patients.

Potentially the most prevalent oral health problem diabetic patients experience is periodontal disease (gum disease). This begins with inflammation in the gums but can progress and destroy bone so much that teeth are lost. Adults with diabetes have more than double the chance of having periodontal disease. Patients with diabetes that smoke have a four-fold increase in risk of periodontal disease. The mechanisms for the increase in diabetic patients are complex but much of the problem can be attributed to the increase in blood glucose levels, changes in cellular signaling, and bacterial loads.

What dental and oral health treatments and lifestyle choices do we recommend for patients with diabetes? First, it is important to establish a healthy relationship with the dentist and hygienist. Education, evaluation, and case specific treatment are among the benefits of this relationship. Recent studies have shown that treating periodontal disease can lower A1C levels (a measure of blood glucose) by approximately .4% which is similar to the efficacy of many of our available medications.


Hypertension is also known as high blood pressure. Many of the same risk factors and lifestyle choices that lead to diabetes can directly or indirectly lead to hypertension. Dental and oral health problems associated with hypertension can be attributed either to the disease itself or the medications used for treatment.

Many studies have found associations between hypertension and periodontal disease. Periodontal infections have been found to be at least in part involved in the development of hypertension. The bacteria involved have increased virulence and have the ability to go systemic. This can contribute not only to hypertension but a variety of cardiac conditions as well.

Medications associated with hypertension have been known to have adverse oral health effects including dry mouth, gingival overgrowth, and altered taste sensations. Potentially the most dangerous of these is the dry mouth. For more information regarding the challenges as well as the treatments for dry mouth, feel free to visit our article “Is Dry Mouth Destroying Your Quality of Life?”

If you have hypertension, we recommend a team approach to your dental treatment including you, your dentist, and your physician. Many of the potential problems associated with hypertension can be prevented or mitigated.


Obesity is a serious problem in our country. In addition to many other problems that obesity can create or contribute to, oral health can be compromised. Recent studies have found a 5.9 increased odds ratio for periodontal disease with a BMI over 28. In addition, obesity is strongly linked to type 2 diabetes so many of the inflammatory problems caused by diabetes are involved with obesity.

If you or one of your loved ones are overweight or obese we recommend a medical evaluation to analyze risk factors, potential benefits, and lifestyle alterations. In addition, we welcome you to our practice for a comprehensive oral health analysis.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns we encourage you to contact us electronically any time or all (904)285-7711.

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