How Diabetes Affects Dental Health
Hundreds of millions of people are impacted by diabetes around the world. When we think of this condition, what usually comes to mind is the need for insulin shots or other forms of medication. However, the high blood sugar caused by both type I and type II diabetes can lead to a number of different health concerns affecting the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart. But what most people with this condition don’t know is that diabetes can also impact oral health.
Diabetes and Your Mouth
Some people don’t realize that they have diabetes. The condition can affect both children and adults. And if it’s left untreated, it can wreak havoc on a patient’s body, with symptoms ranging from fatigue to loss of consciousness. However, it also takes a toll on the mouth. An example is your saliva production. Dry mouth is a common side effect of diabetes caused by decreased saliva production. With less saliva protecting your teeth, patients are more prone to cavities.
Other mouth-related diabetes symptoms include:
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- Difficulties tasting food
- Oral wounds that take longer to heal
- Susceptibility to oral infections
In addition, children with diabetes often have their teeth emerge earlier than usual.
Diabetes and Gum Disease
Gum disease is an oral complication that’s extremely prevalent among those with diabetes. The early stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. If it becomes serious, patients can develop a more severe form of gum disease known as periodontitis. If patients reach this state, the gums begin to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets. These spaces fill with bacteria and can become severely infected. When this situation occurs, your dentist may send you to a specialist for surgery to prevent the infection from destroying the bone around your teeth.
The reason those with diabetes are more prone to gum disease is that, in general, they’re susceptible to bacterial infection because their body has a decreased ability to fight the bacteria impacting the gums.
Unfortunately, diabetes and gum disease have a two-way relationship. Not only can the disease cause gum disease, but if an infection develops in the gums, patients with diabetes could experience a dangerous spike in their blood sugar, making the disorder harder to control.
Preventing Dental Problems Associated With Diabetes
The most important aspect of keeping your mouth healthy if you have diabetes is regular visits to the dentist at least every six months. Your dental team will be able to address any areas of concerns before they become problematic. You’ll also have to ensure you’re giving your teeth and mouth the attention they need every single day. This process includes:
- Controlling blood sugar levels with your prescribed medications and a healthy diet
- Avoiding smoking
- Brushing teeth with a soft toothbrush twice a day
- Cleaning dentures daily if you wear them
Visit the Team at Alpen Dental
If you have diabetes, let the team at Alpen Dental know. Our dentists and hygienists are equipped to meet the special needs associated with those who have diabetes. Regular dental appointments are key to preventing gum disease and other oral health concerns, so contact us today to set one up.