Diabetes and Dental Health
Did you know that 29.1 million people living in the United States have diabetes? That’s 9.3% of the population. Approximately 1.7 million new cases are diagnosed each year—and 8.1 million people living with diabetes don’t even know they have it.
Diabetes affects your body’s ability to process sugar. All the food you eat is turned to sugar and used for energy. In Type I diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough insulin, a hormone that carries sugar from your blood to the cells that need it for energy. In Type II diabetes, the body stops responding to insulin. Both cases result in high blood sugar levels, which can cause problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other parts of your body.
You should inform your dentist if you have either new-onset or long-standing diabetes as this might affect your dental treatment and how often they must review your teeth and gums.
What Are the Symptoms of Dental Health Problems?
- Sore or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath
You should visit your dentist if you experience any of these symptoms; urgent treatment might be required to prevent a problem from worsening.
Diabetes and Gum Diseases
Having prolonged high blood glucose levels can increase the risk of oral health problems, such as gum disease.
Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is the sixth most common disease in the world. It occurs when bacteria within the mouth begin to form into a sticky plaque that sits on the surface of the tooth.
Gum disease is classified on the severity of its development. There are three stages of gum disease:
- Gingivitis: Gingivitis is the initial stage of gum disease, caused by poor oral hygiene and irregular plaque removal from teeth. It is characterized by swollen, red and tender gums and it can cause bleeding when brushing. Luckily gingivitis is reversible, and through improving your oral hygiene techniques and visiting your dentist or hygienist for advice on a home dental health care program, you should be able to reverse this process.
- Periodontitis (Mild): Untreated gingivitis can lead to mild periodontitis. The conversion of gingivitis to periodontics is more common in people who have a family history of gum disease, poor oral hygiene, and uncontrolled diabetes. At this stage, there will be damage to the gums and bone supporting the teeth. In order to prevent further damage, a prompt visit to the dentist is required to prevent further progression.
- Periodontitis (Severe): This is the most advanced stage of gum disease, characterized by significant tissue and bone loss around the teeth
Having prolonged high blood glucose levels can lead to gum disease developing or worsening more quickly, but keeping your levels within a normal range reduces the risk of the infection spreading.
Unfortunately, when your body begins to fight an infection, blood glucose levels will usually rise in response. Should the infection in your mouth become worse, you could have problems with food intake, which might affect your diabetes management.
Your dentist can help you with your diabetes if you have developed gum disease or another mouth infection.
Thrush is a fungal infection that can occur in the mouth; sometimes secondary to dry mouth, following a course of broad-spectrum antibiotics. People with poor blood sugar control are more likely to develop thrush.
Signs of oral thrush include white patches within the mouth, redness of the tongue and cracking of the skin at the corner of the lips.
Everyday Dental Care Tips
- Keep your blood sugar as close to normal as possible.
- If you have dry mouth, try a mouthwash without alcohol.
- Brush your teeth after every meal. Wait at least 30 minutes after eating before brushing to protect any tooth enamel that’s been softened by the acid in the food.
- Use a toothbrush with soft bristles.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Rinse daily with an antiseptic mouthwash.
- If you wear dentures, remove them and clean them daily. Do not sleep in them.
- If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.
We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today.