There are around 30 million Americans who have contracted diabetes. If you are a sufferer then you’re already aware of the harmful impact the disease can have on your heart, kidneys, nerves and vital organs. Unfortunately the list of harmful impacts also extends to dental health, placing you at additional risk.
Research carried out with diabetics shows there is a two way relationship between serious gum disease (periodontitis) and diabetes. Patients with serious gum disease may have difficulty controlling blood sugar levels and poorly controlled blood sugar levels can adversely affect gum health. The two are closely connected.
Why your mouth and teeth are affected by diabetes
Glucose (sugar levels) in your blood has an impact on the saliva in your mouth: Simply put, the higher the glucose level in your blood, the higher it will be in your saliva. With this in mind, saliva rich in glucose is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to multiply. This in turn creates the buildup of dental plaque, leading to tooth decay (cavities), gum disease and bad breath. Higher concentrations of glucose can also encourage thrush (a fungal infection) and dry mouth.
As previously discussed on our blog, dental plaque hardens into tartar. This collects above and below the gum line, making it difficult to brush and clean your teeth properly. Often, tartar can cause gingivitis which is the first stage of periodontal disease (usually diagnosed when gums become swollen, red and bleed during flossing).
Diabetics should pay even more attention to their oral health:
Given the heightened risks for diabetics, here are some tips
- Control glucose levels through ongoing blood monitoring and A1C tests as prescribed by your doctor
- Brush your teeth properly at least twice a day.
- Floss your teeth every day to remove the build up of plaque between the teeth.
- Visit your dentist at least every 6 months to have your teeth thoroughly cleaned.
- Quit smoking.
When to see a dentist
Gum disease is often painless. You may not even know that you have a problem until other signs become obvious. If you notice any of the following then please make an appointment with your dentist:
- Gums that are swollen, tender, bleeding or red.
- If the root of any tooth becomes visible.
- Any discharge coming from your gums or from between your teeth.
- Bad breath, even after brushing your teeth.
- Sores in your mouth that don’t heal in a few days.
If you have any concerns please do not hesitate to speak with Dr. Kelli Slate about your medical condition or recent diagnosis.