Common Illnesses that Cause Tooth Decay

common illnesses that cause tooth decay - dentist holding pad and pen

Common Illnesses that Cause Tooth Decay

Junk food and poor oral hygiene aren’t the only things that cause tooth decay. Your mouth is affected by what’s happening in the rest of your body. Diabetes, Sjogren’s Syndrome, and eating disorders are just some of the common illnesses that cause tooth decay. If you suffer from any of these conditions, at your next appointment, please let our Hicks Dental Group staff know, because extra dental care may be required.


Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are characterized by high blood sugar caused by low insulin levels. If you have diabetes, you are at an increased risk for gum disease. Diabetics are generally more prone to bacterial infection and have a decreased ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums. Diabetes also causes dry mouth. Since one of the main functions of saliva is to help protect the teeth from bad bacteria, a decrease in saliva production leaves teeth more susceptible to infection and therefore, to decay. Poor blood sugar control connected to diabetes puts you at greater risk for serious gum disease. Conversely, gum disease has the potential to raise blood sugar levels and further the progression of the diabetes. So it is a vicious circle. The good news is that by controlling your blood sugar levels, you can prevent many of these problems.

Sjogren’s Syndrome

Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that can affect anyone, but it is most common in older women. It is often developed as a complication from other autoimmune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. In this disease, the body attacks the glands that make tears and saliva, causing dry eyes and dry mouth. The saliva contains minerals that neutralize acid and help repair our enamel. Saliva also washes away bacterial plaque buildup on our teeth and gums. Plaque creates a film of bacteria and sugars on our teeth that leads to tooth decay and gum disease if not cleaned properly. If you suffer from Sjogren’s Syndrome, it is essential to maintain thorough oral hygiene and to keep up with your regular dental visits twice a year.

Eating Disorders

Both anorexia nervosa and bulimia can precipitate tooth decay and tooth loss. This is in part because the body is malnourished and not getting the proper nutrients the teeth need to stay healthy. Often people with these eating disorders will also drink a lot of soda to keep the stomach full. Soda causes significant acid erosion of the teeth. Bulimia is characterized by bingeing and purging. The repeated exposure to acids in the vomit weaken the enamel, making the teeth more prone to decay.

These are just some of the common illnesses that cause tooth decay. If you have one of these conditions, please talk to us about it at your next appointment. Our dentists at Hicks Dental Group care about the overall picture of your health. With proper oral care and regular dental cleanings, tooth decay associated with these illnesses may be treated and even prevented.


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