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diabetes and dental care

Diabetes and Dental Care: What You Need to Know

Did you know that diabetes can affect many body systems? From circulation to eyesight, diabetes can affect more than just your blood sugar levels. Diabetes can also lead to mouth and teeth issues. If you or a family member has diabetes, you may have questions about your specific oral care needs.

How are diabetes and dental care connected?

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can increase your risk of cavities, gingivitis, and periodontitis. How? It is a vicious cycle that begins with high levels of glucose in your blood.

Because cavity-causing bacteria feed on sugars, if your sugar levels are elevated, there is a greater risk of tooth decay. With an abundant supply of sugar, the bacteria can go into overdrive to produce copious amounts of sticky film on your teeth. That sticky film is also known as plaque, which causes decay by eating away at your enamel, resulting in more cavities. Thus, more sugar in your blood means an elevated risk of cavities.

If the plaque is not removed, the increased levels of plaque can then increase your risk for gingivitis, which causes bleeding and tender gums. Unfortunately, gingivitis – if not treated quickly and properly – can lead to periodontitis, which is advanced gum disease. Periodontitis is a serious condition that threatens the integrity and strength of the bones in your jaw. Left untreated, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss.

To make the issues more complicated, patients with diabetes are more prone to infections and delayed healing times. The good news is that many of these issues can be prevented with good hygiene and regular appointments with your dentist.

What can you do to prevent issues?

Just because you have diabetes doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have major dental issues. There are many things you can do to keep your teeth and mouth as healthy as possible. Most importantly:

  • Monitor and control your blood glucose levels: This includes following all instructions from the physician who manages your diabetes care.
  • Maintain a proper oral hygiene routine: Brush twice each day and maintain a regular flossing habit
  • Keep your regular dental appointments: Let your dentist know you have diabetes.
  • If prescribed medicated mouthwashes, follow the directions and remain vigilant with usage. Some mouthwashes are targeted for specific problems like bleeding gums or dry mouth.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking can exacerbate many diabetes-related issues, including oral care.

When to see the dentist

Whenever a problem arises in the mouth, it is always a good idea to speak with your dentist – whether you have diabetes or not. However, if you have diabetes, it is that much more important to address any issues as quickly as possible. Always call your dentist as soon as you notice problems such as:

  • Do you have pain or swollen gums? Are you having problems with your dentures fitting correctly or comfortably?
  • Bleeding gums
  • Dry mouth
  • Bad taste in the mouth not related to food
  • General aches or soreness in the mouth

How can we help you?

Do you have questions or concerns about diabetes and your dental care? Contact us today.