It’s important to maintain proper oral hygiene to promote good overall health, especially when you have a health condition such as diabetes. Diabetes hinders your body’s ability to fight bacteria in the mouth and increases your risk of dental issues. The high blood sugar of people with diabetes encourages bacteria growth, which contributes to gum disease that compromises oral health and can lead to tooth loss.
Indications of a problem
If you’re someone with diabetes, you have to pay closer attention to your body and any unusual symptoms that can indicate a problem. Signs of gum disease include:
- Sore, red, swollen or bleeding gums
- Gums that pull away from teeth
- Loose teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Dentures that don’t fit properly or an improper bite
Although these symptoms of gum disease apply to everyone, if you have diabetes, you need to address them promptly to prevent progression into something more severe.
Controlling diabetes protects your healthy smile
When diabetes is well managed and controlled, it keeps your teeth and gums healthy. However, if you don’t manage or control your high blood sugar, you’re at higher risk for gum disease, dry mouth, fungal infections including thrush and tooth loss. Infections can cause a rise in blood sugar, which may make diabetes more difficult to manage and control, so it’s essential that you keep your mouth healthy to manage your blood sugar.
Prevention and treatment of oral health issue for those with diabetes
People who have diabetes need to see their dentist at least twice a year, as they’re more prone to oral infections than those without diabetes. Inform your dentist that you have diabetes and the medications you’re on so they can design dental treatments around your specific health needs. Regular exams with professional cleanings keep your mouth healthy, and the dentist can instruct you on how to care for your teeth and gums properly at home. Other ways to protect your oral health when you have diabetes include:
- Remove plaque from teeth – Plaque is the bacteria, saliva, and food that forms on your teeth after you eat. Plaque releases acids that attack tooth enamel and if left untreated, can build up beneath the gum line where it’s difficult to remove with brushing and flossing. The bacteria in plaques causes inflammation, which can lead to gum disease and the high blood sugar of those with diabetes, can make gum disease worse. The best way to prevent and remove plaque is with regular daily brushing, twice a day for two minutes and flossing at least once a day.
- Maintain dentures – Those with diabetes have a higher risk of fungal infection such as thrush and mouth sores that are difficult to heal, so it’s essential to maintain dentures. Dentures that fit loosely or aren’t maintained well can cause sores, infections, gum irritation and can contribute to the development of thrush. If you have diabetes and dentures, remove and clean your dentures daily to reduce infection risk and visit your dental professional if they do not fit right.
- Oral surgery preparation – When oral surgery is required for someone with diabetes, they need to make sure their blood sugar is well controlled to reduce the risk of infection and to speed healing time. Those with diabetes need to tell their dentist about their health issues and consult with both their doctor and dentist before proceeding with oral surgery to ensure their blood sugar is under control.
- Protect your health – The same practices that keep your mouth healthy can also help manage your diabetes. By eating a healthy diet, taking your diabetes medications properly, quitting smoking and visiting the dentist regularly, you reduce the risk of developing serious oral health issues that can be complicated by diabetes.
When you have diabetes, oral infections can move fast so if you’re experiencing any symptoms of gum disease, contact the dentist immediately.
At Greater Baltimore Prosthodontics, we take the oral and overall health of our patients very seriously and address any special needs due to health conditions with courtesy, care, and professionalism. Contact our offices today to schedule an exam and ensure that diabetes doesn’t keep you from having a healthy, beautiful smile.