How Does Diabetes Affect Your Dental Care?
February 27th, 2015
Diabetes is a chronic disease which affects your body’s ability to process sugar. It is estimated that up to 20 million people have diabetes, but only two-thirds of these individuals are diagnosed. Studies show that diabetics are more susceptible to periodontal disease and oral infections than non diabetic patients. High blood sugar can also cause problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other parts of your body. Diabetes can lower your resistance to infection and can slow the healing process. Some common oral health problems associated with diabetes are:
- Gum disease. Recent research suggests that the connection between gum disease and diabetes goes both ways. On the one hand, because of lowered resistance and a longer healing process, gum disease appears to be more frequent and more severe among those with diabetes. Conversely, it appears that treating gum disease in people with diabetes can help improve blood sugar control.
- Fungal infections. Since diabetes compromises your immune system, you may be prone to developing fungal infections. Symptoms include painful sores and difficulty swallowing. If you develop a fungal infection, see your dentist.
- Infection and delayed healing. If you are having extensive oral surgery, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to minimize the risk of infection. To help the healing process, keep your blood glucose levels under control before, during and after surgery.
Some dental health care tips for patient with diabetes are:
- Eat and drink healthy. Keep your blood sugar as close to normal as possible.
- Always bring a list of the medications you are on as well as the status of your diabetes to the dentist.
- Practice good oral hygiene habits to control the progression of gum disease and other oral health problems.
- Regular dental checkups and periodontal screenings are important for evaluating overall dental health and for treating dental problems in their initial stages. Your dentist may recommend more frequent evaluations and preventive procedures, such as teeth cleaning, to maintain good oral health.
A common misconception is that diabetics are more prone to dental decay. People with diabetes have higher levels of sugar in their saliva. They also experience dry mouth due to medications. Diabetics must eat more frequently, also. All of these things combined with poor home care can increase the chances of decay. Diagnosed diabetics are very knowledgeable about their health and how to control their sugar levels. People whose diabetes is well controlled have no more tooth decay or periodontal disease than persons without diabetes. Good oral hygiene and maintenance of blood sugar within the accepted range are the best protections against cavity formation and periodontal disease.
Until next time,
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