Diabetes impacts oral health more than many people recognize. The management of your blood sugar can affect your teeth, gums, and entire mouth. Let’s examine why oral care is so important for diabetics.
Experts have discovered a definite link between diabetes and gum disease, with diabetics being at higher risk for gum disease than non-diabetics. This is due to high levels of blood sugar making you more prone to bacterial infections. When bacteria are present, the gums get irritated and infection can result. Gingivitis is the mildest level of gum disease, but if not treated the problem will worsen. Once gum disease occurs, it can be hard to control because infections usually heal more slowly in diabetes patients. Gingivitis can easily progress in diabetics to the most serious level of gum disease, or periodontitis.
Dentists have suggested ways to avoid dental problems associated with diabetes. These include:
Controlling your blood sugar. Increased levels of blood sugar create more sugar in your saliva, rapidly causing tooth decay and infection if you’re not careful.
Brushing at least twice daily with a soft bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. It’s also helpful to brush your tongue to remove bacteria there too.
Flossing daily to remove plaque between teeth.
Seeing your dentist for checkups every six months, or sometimes more if your dentist recommends it.
Providing your dentist with a list of medications you’re taking, because some of them have side effects such as dry mouth that can affect your oral health.
Waiting to have non-emergency dental work done only when your blood sugar levels are acceptable. This will help you heal quicker and decrease your risk of infection.
Consulting the doctor who handles your diabetes before having oral surgery or other significant dental treatment.
Diabetes and gum disease act like a viscous cycle, directly affecting each other if either is not treated or controlled. There can be serious repercussions from either of these diseases. It’s important to take control of your health in both areas, and maintain close contact with your physician and dentist in order to maintain the best level of your overall health.