Diabetes And Oral Health

If you have diabetes, you’re well aware of the daily challenges you face having to check your blood sugar levels regularly, eat a diabetes-friendly diet, and make sure that you take the time to exercise regularly and well. However, diabetes doesn’t just change your daily routine, it can have major health effects on your entire body. Diabetic retinopathy can damage your eyes, diabetic nephropathy affects the kidneys, and other diabetic complications become more apparent the longer someone has diabetes. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 29 million people have diabetes in America and a fourth of those people aren’t aware of it.

In this blog, we’re going to take a look at the effect of diabetes on oral health and bring some awareness to the complications it can cause. If you’re diabetic and any of these things concern you, you should contact an oral health specialist immediately.

How They’re Related

Research has proven that there is a connection between gum disease and diabetes. That’s not to say that only people with diabetes can get gum disease, but they’ll be at a much higher risk of having this condition. It’s also a two-way road, meaning not only will diabetes help bring on gum disease, but gum disease may lead to worse diabetes the longer it is left untreated. This mainly has to do with the fact that people with diabetes are more susceptible to bacterial infection, and their bodies aren’t able to fight it off as easily.

Anyone with difficulty maintaining blood glucose levels should be more concerned about their oral health. Additionally, serious gum disease can cause blood sugar levels to rise making it even more difficult for a diabetic person to control their condition.

When someone with diabetes has an infection, there is a stress response that increases the production of hormones like adrenaline or cortisol. As a result, blood sugar levels increase and your white blood cells aren’t able to move around quick enough to fight off an infection like in a person without diabetes. In other words, bacteria that may be harmless to someone without diabetes could be a serious issue for someone with diabetes, due their body’s inability to fight it quickly or efficiently enough. This is an important part of oral health considering millions of bacteria can be present in the mouth at any given time.  

Oral Health For Diabetics

Naturally, when you have diabetes, you’re more likely to develop an oral health condition such as gum disease, tooth decay, or periodontal disease. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it just means you’ll have to take more care when it comes to oral hygiene and care. You should plan to see an oral health specialist more frequently and be sure to notify them of your condition. Below are some helpful tips for maintaining oral health as a diabetic.

Brush effectively

A non-diabetic may be able to get away with ineffective and inconsistent brushing and flossing, but for a diabetic, it’s not an option. Brushing is the best way to remove bacteria and plaque from three out of five surfaces of the tooth. However, in order to remove as much bacteria as possible from your mouth, you’ll need to floss as well.

Dentist visits

Many people lose track of how long they’ve avoided the dentist. Although this is never a good thing even in non-diabetics, it’s an even bigger problem in people with diabetes. Since your body has reduced ability to fight off infection, it will take hold faster and reach severity quicker. But that doesn’t mean it’s too late to reverse the issue. Additionally, when plaque hardens, it turns to calculus which can’t be removed with a toothbrush or floss. This means you could be brushing relentlessly but still be developing periodontitis.

Control Blood Glucose Levels

Chances are, you’re already pretty good at controlling your blood glucose levels. Typically, blood sugar is maintained through a combination of things including your diet, medication, and exercise and sometimes even insulin. However, another test you may want to take other than your daily test is an HbA1c (hemoglobin A1c). This will help you determine if there is analyze your exact blood glucose condition and determine if there will be any issues recovering from infections like periodontal disease.

Quit Smoking

In addition to diabetes, smoking is another factor in increasing your chances of developing periodontitis. The difference is that smoking is preventable, whereas diabetes is not. According to an article in DentistryIQ, people who smoke are 2.7 times more likely to develop periodontal disease. This coupled with diabetes and poor oral hygiene is a strong indicator that oral health issues are waiting right around the corner.

Speak Up

Another way to avoid oral health complications as a diabetic is to simply let people know about it, especially your oral health specialists. If you visit a dentist, orthodontist, and periodontist, keep them all up to date on your diabetes and blood glucose condition. You should also notify any other health specialist you’re seeing in case there’s anything they can do to help.

Contact Pacific Northwest Periodontics

At Same Day Implants, your periodontal health is our highest priority. Diabetes is a life-changing condition that can be very stressful for many Americans. But with professional treatment and an adjusted lifestyle, you’ll be able to prevent oral health conditions before they happen. Contact Pacific Northwest Periodontics and Dental Implants today to learn more.