How is diabetes connected to your oral health? Should people with diabetes change their dental care habits?
Diabetes is a serious condition. As per the Canadian Diabetes Association, it is linked to cases of premature death. In 2008, 1 out of 10 Canadian adults died due to diabetes complications. High blood sugar levels in diabetics can affect their body organs. You need to take care of your teeth and gums, and at the same time work hard to manage your blood sugar.
How Diabetes Affects Your Oral Health
According to a study, signs and symptoms of life-threatening diseases can first be seen in the mouth before they appear on other body parts. The same is true with diabetes.
If diabetes is not treated, it can affect your body organs and your mouth is no exception.
- You may experience dry mouth, which in turn can lead to other oral problems. Saliva plays a crucial role in protecting your teeth against bacteria. If there is a shortage of saliva flow in your mouth, you may be at higher risk of cavities.
- You also increase your risk of acquiring gum diseases. High blood sugar exacerbates gum disease. Your mouth’s ability to fight germs weakens. Research also suggests that gum disease can potentially worsen diabetes too. It’s a two-way street and among your best weapons are regular dental visits.
- You may have issues tasting what you eat and drink. Diabetes can reduce your sense of taste. If you notice this symptom discuss it with your dentist.
- Diabetes makes your mouth more sensitive. Since it’s easier for bacteria to invade your mouth, your mouth becomes more susceptible to infections. It may take longer for your wounds to heal. And your gums may suffer from inflammation and bleeding more often.
Why Diabetes Makes a Person More Vulnerable to Gum Disease
As bacteria thrive in your mouth, you become more prone to gum diseases. Poor blood sugar control triggers the spread of infection in your mouth. And with poor dental hygiene habits, you can easily pick up gum disease along the way.
The American Dental Association says that 20% of those diagnosed with diabetes also suffer from periodontal disease. One obstacle in treating gum disease is that its symptoms can be painless. You may not be aware you have it until your dentist conducts a comprehensive dental checkup.
In this regard, make sure to commit to regular dental visits. Good dental health is crucial to maintaining good overall health. Your dentist can perform a professional deep cleaning to get rid of bacteria lurking in your gums.
By treating gum disease, you can also help yourself improve blood sugar levels.
Caring for Your Teeth When You Have Diabetes
Outside of the dental office, you need to continue caring for your teeth and mouth. Dental visits coupled with good oral care habits can potentially slow down the development of diabetes.
Here are other dental care tips to take note of:
- If you are wearing any type of denture, make sure to clean it every day and do not wear it to sleep
- Avoid smoking. If you need assistance withdrawing from the habit, talk to your dentist. They may be able to provide you with counselling.
- Don’t forget to brush and floss, no matter how busy you get. Keep antiseptic mouth rinse handy or at least rinse your mouth with water after every meal.
- Switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush for gentle cleaning of your tooth surfaces. Note, however, that cleaning misaligned or crowded teeth may be more difficult. If you need tips on how to brush properly, you can as well ask your dentist or hygienist for assistance.
- Incorporate exercise or physical activities in your daily routine. It can be as simple as ditching the elevator and using the stairs instead. Or walking to your destinations instead of using the car or public transport.
Talk to your dentist about medications and treatments you’re currently taking. Teamwork is invaluable in your fight against gum diseases and diabetes.
For more information about diabetes and oral health, you may visit us at our dental office in Carstairs, AB. Set your appointment online.