The link between diabetes and oral health problems is high blood sugar. If blood sugar is poorly controlled, oral health problems are more likely to develop. This is because uncontrolled diabetes weakens white blood cells, which are the body’s main defense against bacterial infections that can occur in the mouth. Self-advocacy and self-care is the priority for anyone with health concerns, and diabetes is no exception. A dentist should be part of your care team, and this is what your dentist wants you to know.
Those With Type I Diabetes Are More Predisposed To Gum Disease
Type I Diabetes affects up to 3 million Americans, and about 30,000 are diagnosed each year. Periodontal disease is the most common dental disease affecting those living with diabetes, affecting nearly 22% of those diagnosed. Especially with increasing age, poor blood sugar control increases the risk for gum problems.
Oral Care for Type II Diabetics
Similar to research in Type 1 Diabetes, research shows that gingivitis and periodontitis are also common in Type II diabetic patients. Oral manifestations include periodontal disease in 34%, oral candidiasis in 24%, tooth loss in 24%, oral mucosal ulcers in 22%, taste impairment in 20%, xerostomia and salivary gland hypofunction in 14%, dental caries in 24%, and burning mouth sensation in 10% of cases. Those who struggle with glucose management are more susceptible to serious gum disease, and likewise, gum disease can negatively affect blood sugar levels.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is bacteria that builds up in the pockets of the gums that causes them to become red, swollen, and bloody when touched. Because diabetics are more susceptible to bacterial infections, and less able to fight them, is why good oral care to fight off gum disease is so important. As a consequence of the impaired immunity and healing associated with diabetes, gum disease may be more severe and progress more rapidly. The potential for these changes points to the need for periodic professional evaluation and treatment. How can I prevent gum disease from progressing?
As a Diabetic, Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Early gum disease (also called gingivitis) can be reversed by practicing good oral hygiene and seeing your dentist every six months for a teeth cleaning and examination. During your appointment, we’ll be able to remove plaque and tartar and monitor your oral health. Good oral health is critical for general health, whether or not you have diabetes.
Following these guidelines will help you, and your mouth, teeth, and gums to stay healthy:
- Brush your teeth twice a day for two full minutes
- Opt for an electric toothbrush to maximize your cleaning potential
- Rinse daily with an ADA approved mouthwash
- Consider chewing sugar-free gum to increase saliva levels
- See your dentist twice a year for check-ups, more often if you are experiencing pain or have dental concerns
How Can I Prepare For a Visit To My Dentist?
Plan ahead. Talk with your doctor and dentist before the visit about the best way to take care of your blood glucose during dental work. You may be taking a diabetes medicine that can cause low blood glucose, also called hypoglycemia. If you take insulin or other diabetes medication, take it and eat as usual before visiting the dentist. You may need to bring your diabetes medicines and your snacks or meal with you to the dentist’s office. You may need to postpone any non-emergency dental work if your blood glucose is not under control. If you feel nervous about visiting the dentist, tell your dentist and the staff about your feelings. Your dentist can adapt the treatment to your needs. Don’t let your nerves stop you from having regular checkups. Waiting too long to take care of your mouth may make things worse.
Whether adult or child, Type I diabetic, or Type II, establishing and maintaining healthy oral habits including regular brushing, flossing, rinsing, and chewing are important. Seeing a dentist twice a year should also be a part of your routine.
About Torbeck Dental
Torbeck Dental treats every patient with dignity and excellent care. We are highly trained dental professionals with exceptionally friendly and helpful service. We understand that for many, visiting a dentist can be a stressful experience so our comfortable surroundings and compassionate staff will ease any fears you may have. We are here to help you achieve your happiest and healthiest smile! Our dental team are a group experienced professionals using the latest treatments. Our team has the professional experience to realize that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all treatment, so we never use a one-size-fits-all approach to your dental plan. We provide quality and personalized oral health care while keeping your individuality in mind. Our goal is to improve and maintain your oral health so you can smile with confidence!