Diabetes doesn’t only affect how your body processes sugar. It can also impact your teeth and gums if you don’t take care of your oral health!
Diabetes affects your entire body — including your mouth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 34.2 million Americans (roughly one in 10) have diabetes, a disease that impairs your ability to process sugar.
When your body doesn’t make enough insulin, which is responsible for converting sugar into energy, you have Type I diabetes. If your body no longer responds to insulin, or your pancreas cannot produce it, you’ll be diagnosed with Type II diabetes. In each case, your glucose levels rise, leading to damage in your heart, kidneys, eyes, nerves, and your mouth. As such, regular dental care is an important part of maintaining your overall well-being, especially if you have diabetes. Just as your primary care doctor monitors your diabetes, a dentist at Espire Dental will work with you to keep your mouth healthy as you manage your blood sugar levels.
Six Tips to Keeping Your Mouth Healthy With Diabetes
High blood sugar levels are damaging to your mouth in several ways. Glucose shows up in your saliva, which means it’s washing over your teeth and letting bacteria grow. As the bacteria multiplies due to the excess sugar, you stand a greater chance of decay and cavities. That bacteria also increases your risk of gum disease as the bacteria accelerates plaque buildup along the gum line.
Diabetes interferes with your ability to fight off infections, so if your mouth becomes infected, it will take longer to heal. Dry mouth caused by a lack of saliva in the mouth is a frequent side effect of diabetes. Saliva protects your teeth, so producing less of it means a higher probability of developing tooth decay, gum disease, and thrush, a fungal infection of the mouth.
However, people with diabetes can maintain a healthy mouth by following these six tips:
Manage Your Diabetes. The first step in preventing tooth decay and gum disease is controlling your diabetes. Strictly follow your primary care doctor’s guidelines on medications, diet, and exercise to keep your blood sugar levels within an acceptable range.
Brush Twice Daily. Brushing at least twice a day or ideally after each meal reduces the amount of bacteria in your mouth. With less bacteria in your mouth, your teeth are less likely to develop decay. If you wear dentures, clean them thoroughly each day to prevent inflammation and infections.
Floss Once a Day. Your brush cannot reach the narrow spaces between your teeth where bacteria can breed. Flossing once daily removes that bacteria.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly. Those twice yearly visits to the dentist take on even more importance if you have diabetes. Regular teeth cleanings and exams can spot the earliest signs of decay and gum disease so you can reverse the damage. If you notice any signs of gum disease, such as bleeding, swollen, and red gums, consult with your dentist immediately. And always tell your dentist about any chronic conditions (such as diabetes!) that may affect your oral health. You, your dentist, and your primary care doctor can then collaborate on a care plan to keep your mouth clean and healthy.
Hydrate. If you have dry mouth related to diabetes, drink enough water to make up for the depleted saliva. Avoid substances like caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol that tend to sap the mouth of moisture.
Quit Smoking. Tobacco worsens the effects of diabetes, which can lead to gum disease and potentially tooth loss. Discuss with your doctor a smoking cessation program to help you break the cigarette habit.
Day One For a Healthier Mouth
Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Oklahoma City location today! Our highly trained dentists will develop a care plan to maintain your oral health if you have diabetes. Don’t live near our Oklahoma City office? Find one of our other locations near you.
Oklahoma City, OK
12448 St Andrews Drive
Oklahoma City, OK 73120