Are you one of the more than thirty million Americans and more than the 422 million people worldwide who are diabetic? The numbers are staggering. And they are increasing, dramatically. In the last ten years, the number of those living with this condition has jumped by almost fifty percent. If you have been diagnosed, research shows you may be more predisposed to certain types of gum and tooth disease as well.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is “a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine.” It’s a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputations, heart failure and stroke. And that’s nothing to smile at.
4 Dental Health Concerns for Diabetic Patients
Diabetes isn’t the cause of oral health issues. But being diabetic makes certain types of gum and tooth disease easier to get because of your diabetic condition. And often, diabetes makes oral health issues worse. As a diabetic, you should make a concentrated effort to take good care of your teeth and gums.
The following dental concerns are not issues related to diabetic patients only. But our patients who have diabetes need to be extra-vigilant in the care of their teeth because of them.
1. Dry Mouth
Your saliva is important because of its very important role in good dental health. Really? Yes, really.
- Your saliva aids in your digestion of the food you eat by helping you move that food around in your mouth and on into your body
- It cleanses your mouth by washing away germs and regulating the acids in your mouth
If you have diabetes, have you noticed that your mouth is drier? Do your lips crack often? Is swallowing food sometimes unpleasant or a little difficult to do? This is because your body is producing less saliva now that you are diabetic. But dry mouth goes beyond general discomfort. Inadequate production of saliva leads to more serious problems.
If you deal dry mouth symptoms, do the following. It helps.
- Sip water throughout the day
- Chew sugarless gum to promote saliva
- Because dry mouth encourages decay, chew gum made with xylitol. Both xylitol and the natural sugar found in fruits works great to curb cavity-causing bacteria
- Use a mouthwash without alcohol in it. There are alcohol-free mouthwashes and mouthwashes made specifically for dry mouth available for purchase
- Apply moisturizers to your lips
When you allow germs and acids in your mouth to build up, your gums get irritated. Then, you develop gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. Irritation, redness, and swelling of gums are symptoms of this disease. But don’t be fooled by the term “mild.” Because gingivitis causes gum tissue loss. And the loss of gum tissue is irreversible.
It’s best to take preventative measures in the good fight against gingivitis.
- Maintain a proper blood glucose level. Research has found that dental patients with Type 1 diabetes with poor control of their glycemic levels have the highest rate of gingivitis.
- Brush your teeth properly at least twice a day
- Purchase and use anti-gingivitis rinses to help control bacterial growth
As a diabetic, your body produces high levels of glucose. And saliva with high glucose levels creates the perfect environment for the growth of yeast infections. If yeast infections, like Thrush, go untreated, they can spread to your esophagus and other parts of your body, too.
Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease (gingivitis to a greater degree). This disease causes the loss of gum tissue and the destruction of the bones that support your teeth. One study found that a Type 1 diabetic is more likely to develop periodontitis, five times more than those who are not.
Research shows infection is worse and slower to heal for those with diabetes. Infections create a vicious cycle in those with diabetes. They cause your blood sugar to rise which promotes even more bacterial and fungal growth. So it’s uber important for you as a diabetic to take particularly good care of your teeth and gums to prevent oral infections.
Once again, proper control of your blood glucose level paired with a concentrated effort to take good care of your teeth is your best form of prevention.
Since harmful bacteria grow in the mouth more easily for those with diabetes, the development of cavities is more of a concern. When bacteria combine with sugars in your mouth, a film of soft, sticky plaque forms. Then, over time, plaque turns into tartar and cements to your teeth.
Prevent plaque buildup in the first place, diabetic or not. In addition to brushing twice a day, floss at least once a day. Because brushing without flossing can’t get rid of food particles that get trapped between your teeth.
The Importance of Regular Dental Office Visits, Diabetic or Not
If he doesn’t already know, let Dr. Davis know that you have diabetes. Schedule regular checkups and dental cleanings with our office every six months. Dr. Davis may want to see you more often than every six months, but if so, he’ll let you know. And when you visit our office, bring your glucometer with you.
Are you diabetic? If so, take preventative measures. Start with proper brushing at least twice a day and flossing once each day. And visit our Davis Dental at least twice a year. Call Davis Dental at (307) 634-3488 to schedule your dental checkups today.
Quality Dental Care for Your Whole Family
3249 Sparks Road
Cheyenne, WY 82001
Open Monday through Thursday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm