March 26, 2019

How to Care for Your Oral Health If You Have Diabetes

Did you know that almost 30 million Americans suffer from diabetes? If you are diabetic, you probably already know about the threat to your overall health from diabetes.

Diabetes can come with some serious health risks, commonly called “diabetic complications” which potentially includes blindness, foot amputations, kidney failure, heart disease, neuropathies, and impaired wound healing.

Not only are people with diabetes at risk for those things it can even create problems with your oral health! That’s concerning when you consider the fact that periodontal health has been linked to other health complications.

Diabetes and Gum Disease

The problem is, diabetics are more prone to chronic low-grade infections (like gum disease) and if they have gum disease it tends to be even more severe! Diabetics are also at a higher risk of serious periodontal disease—an infection in the gum and bone that keep the teeth in place.

Serious gum disease can negatively affect blood glucose control and increase the progression of diabetes.

This is because diabetics are more susceptible to bacterial infection while having a lowered ability to fight off the bacteria that attack gum tissue that slows down healing. Fortunately, diabetic “oral complications” are beginning to be addressed more by the medical community, both doctors and dentists along with their patients.

Diabetics with gingivitis may also have a more difficult time managing their blood sugar levels. This is because the infection elevates your blood sugar and that makes it harder to control your diabetes.

Before you know it, this quickly becomes a vicious cycle with diabetes causing more gum disease problems, and gum disease creating blood sugar control issues. If your blood glucose levels aren’t properly managed, you’ll more likely invite serious gum disease that leaves you with tooth loss.

Inflammation and the Oral-Systemic Connection

Of course, gum disease isn’t the only issue with diabetes. You are also more vulnerable to a fungal infection from oral thrush and dry mouth that develops from not enough saliva production which can leave you vulnerable to ulcers, cavities, and infection.

Inflammation in the body arising from infection is like having a rash, bug bite or sprained body part — where you can see the swelling as the body reacts — except when you have type 2 diabetes, the inflammation is hidden because it’s happening inside the body. This Silent Killer is called “systemic inflammation”.

This internal inflammation happens when dangerous inflammatory proteins like C-reactive protein (CRP) and other “cytokines” are created by chronic low-grade infections (hello, gum disease!) that damage your blood vessels, tissues and organs.

Gum disease contributes to these health problems from the “spillover” of oral bacteria and inflammatory proteins that enter the bloodstream into the rest of the body. The “Oral Systemic Connection” is the term used to describe this link between mouth health and general health.

Six Things You Can Do Now For Your Oral Health When You Have Diabetes

#1 Control your blood glucose levels!

This is the key to preventing oral health issues when you have diabetes. In fact, you’ll need to hold off on dental procedures (except, of course, for dental emergencies) until your blood sugar is well managed.

#2 Take good care of your mouth.

Doing your part at-home can make a positive impact on your health. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. If you wear dentures, take them out and clean them daily. Keeping your mouth healthy and clean should be a daily priority just like taking your medication.

#3 Check your mouth for problems.

Such as swollen and bleeding gums, a bad taste in the mouth, soreness, or white patches in your mouth. These could be an indication of something more serious, so it’s great to catch things early and see our dentist if you do see trouble.

#4 Visit our exceptional dental team at the recommended time.

Skipping the dentist might seem like an okay thing, but it’s not. Only a dental professional can remove tartar, and clean where a toothbrush can’t. Not to mention the fact that an exam and radiographs will catch tooth decay early-on before you experience pain or bigger problems. It’s also a great time to let us know about your diabetes, what medications you are taking, if your mouth is sore, or if your dentures aren’t fitting right.

#5 Eat foods that have natural anti-inflammatory properties.

This means healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids, olive oil, flaxseed oil, and canola oil, along with avocados, walnuts, fruits, vegetables. Choices that are always good include leafy greens, tomatoes, and oranges. And while you’re making healthier food choices like those for your body, you’ll also be making better food choices for your teeth!

#6 Don’t smoke!

Tobacco use is one of the major risk factors for developing gum disease and if you have gum disease it makes it even worse. Really, there’s no better time to quit than right now.

Oral Health and Diabetes

Because new research is showing a strong relationship between diabetes and oral health, controlling gum disease is more important than ever before. More people are aware of these problems thanks to news reports, advertising by companies selling oral health products, health insurance companies educating their customers, and through the efforts of more dentists and doctors.

Some medical insurance companies are now providing coverage for periodontal treatment for diabetics and heart patients because they see that improved gum health lowers overall costs for other medical care. And many informed medical doctors are beginning to insist that their diabetic and heart patients see qualified dentists who can diagnose and treat chronic low-grade infections in the mouth.

If you would like to know more about diabetes and your oral health then schedule a visit with us in Palmdale, California, simply call (661) 349-7725. We’re happy to schedule a reservation for you with our exceptional dentist, Dr. Powell or you can also reserve your reservation conveniently online!

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