Diabetes and Oral Health
Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how your body uses or produces insulin, which is a hormone necessary for converting sugar and starches into energy. If you have diabetes, you are most likely aware that the disease can harm your heart, eyes, nerves and other vital structures of the body. What you may find surprising is that diabetes can also affect your oral health. According to the American Dental Association, the most common oral health problems associated with diabetes include gum disease, infections, tooth decay and delayed healing.
How Does Diabetes Affect Your Oral Health?
Poor blood sugar management is one of the primary causes of dental problems in diabetics. High levels of glucose, or sugar, in the blood can cause a variety of problems in your mouth, including pain and infections. Glucose is also a component of your saliva, which is necessary for keeping your mouth moist, preventing tooth decay and aiding in chewing and swallowing.
When your diabetes is not controlled, high levels of glucose in your saliva create an environment in your mouth that allows bacteria to grow and thrive. As a result, diabetics are more prone to the development of plaque, which is a sticky substance that forms on your teeth. The bacteria and acids in plaque can destroy tooth enamel, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Having diabetes also decreases your ability to fight off infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control, this is one of the reasons why diabetics are twice as likely to develop periodontal disease. These include infections of the gum and bone that are responsible for holding your teeth in place. Diabetics are also at an increased risk of bone and tooth loss associated with periodontal disease. Recent research has also shown that serious gum disease can make it very difficult for diabetics to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and manage the progression of the disease.
How Diabetics Can Prevent Dental Problems
Since diabetics are more prone to conditions that can severely affect their oral health, it is crucial that you take your dental care seriously. You can keep your mouth healthy and reduce your risk of diabetes-related complications by following these tips:
- Commit to managing your diabetes: This includes ensuring that your blood sugar remains within a healthy level and eating a healthy diet.
- Brush and floss daily: Ideally, you should brush your teeth twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride. By flossing at least once a day, you can remove plaque between your teeth and under your gum line.
- Visit your dentist regularly: See your dentist at least twice a year for a checkup and professional cleaning. This will help the dentist evaluate your overall oral health and detect problems in their early stages. Your dentist may recommend visits that are more frequent.
- Don’t smoke: Smoking significantly increases your risk of developing complications associated with diabetes.
- Tell your dentist you have diabetes: It is important that your dentist is aware of all of your health problems and medications you are taking. You should also ensure that your dentist has the contact information for your physician.
- Look for early signs of dental problems: Carefully examine your mouth for the presence of any problems. These include bleeding gums, swelling, redness, pain or loose teeth.
Face and Jaw Surgery Center serves all of North Dakota and North West Minnesota including Moorhead, MN and East Grand Forks, MN