What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body processes blood sugar. In Type 1 diabetes, the body is unable to produce insulin, whereas in Type 2 diabetes, the body produces insulin, but does not use it properly.
For diabetics, as insulin either isn’t being produced or simply isn’t working properly, blood sugar stays in the bloodstream instead of being converted into energy for cells.
This overload of blood sugar can result in many types of complications for diabetics, including dental and oral complications.
Diabetes effects on dental health
Increased risk of cavities (tooth decay) from high blood sugar and dry mouth
Bacteria love to eat sugar, and since diabetics have poor blood sugar regulation, the excess sugar in the bloodstream is like an all-you-can-eat buffet for bacteria.
This problem can be exacerbated due to dry mouth. Although the cause is not well understood, dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a common symptom of diabetes.
In addition to causing sores, chapped lips, and other issues, dry mouth can lead to the formation of cavities: because saliva produces bacteria-fighting enzymes, reduced saliva means less bacteria moderation, resulting in more tooth decay.
Unruly bacteria convert sugar into acid that breaks down teeth, and then join together as plaque, leading to further deterioration of teeth and gum disease.
Increased risk of gum disease
Gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease, is the most common oral complication from diabetes. Gingivitis is caused by a buildup of plaque, and symptoms include red, swollen, sensitive gums that bleed easily and bad breath.
Although understandably worrisome, at this stage, gum disease can be reversed with good oral hygiene practices and proper blood sugar management; however, if the underlying cause of gum disease is left unchecked, gingivitis can progress into periodontal disease, which is irreversible.
Periodontal disease can cause pain and can lead to loss of teeth-supporting bone and tissue, resulting in loose teeth that move around.
What to do to improve your oral health when you have diabetes
Practice good dental hygiene
Practicing good dental hygiene will make a positive impact on your dental health, regardless of whether you have diabetes or not. Ensure that you are incorporating good dental hygiene practices into your daily routine such as:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day, and spend at least two minutes brushing each time to make sure you are properly cleansing your mouth of bacteria.
- Flossing once a day to help remove plaque buildup between your teeth.
Watch your Blood Sugar Levels
Control your blood sugar levels by eating a healthier diet. Monitoring your blood sugar levels helps stop excess bacteria from decaying your teeth and gums, right at the source.
Inform your dentist about your diabetes and plan regular checkups
See your dentist for regular checkups, and let them know about your diabetes and if you are taking insulin or any medications. Work together with your dentist so that together you can make informed decisions about your health.
How Cobblestone Park Family Dental Can Help
Here at Cobblestone Park Family Dental, we’re dedicated to you and your oral health. We care about you and your smile.
If you have diabetes and are struggling with dental complications, we are available to help. Contact us by calling (405) 603-8520 to schedule an appointment with Cobblestone Park Family Dental.