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Diabetes can be a life-altering diagnosis. It can affect many aspects of your life and your health. Millions of people live with diabetes, and with improvements to your diet and lifestyle, you can keep your diabetes in check. The more you arm yourself with knowledge about diabetes and your health, the better you will be at managing your diabetes.
The Connection Between Diabetes and Oral Health
Your doctor has probably already talked with you about the impacts diabetes may have on your cardiovascular health, weight, eyes, nervous system, and kidneys. But did you know that diabetes also affects your oral health?
In addition to a healthy diet, regular exercise, and keeping your blood sugar under control, protecting the health of your teeth and gums is an important aspect of maintaining good health through diabetes.
Gum disease is surprisingly common but is even more prevalent among those with diabetes. What’s more, having diabetes can mean that gum disease is a more serious concern.
Diabetes makes you more susceptible to infections, including gum disease. Over time, diabetes can impair blood flow and lead to nerve damage throughout the body. In addition, higher blood sugar can weaken your immune system. These issues make it harder for the body to recognize and fight infections. Diabetes also means it takes the body more time to heal. Similarly, gum disease can further increase blood sugar and weaken the immune system, creating a vicious cycle.
Luckily, early-stage gum disease, known as gingivitis, is easily reversible with proper oral care. Be diligent with brushing twice a day, and use a soft-bristled toothbrush that is gentle on your gums. Gum disease may progress faster if you have diabetes. If you suspect more advanced gum disease, see your dentist right away.
Dry mouth is common among diabetes patients. The disease can result in lower-than-normal saliva production. In addition to being uncomfortable, dry mouth means less saliva to cleanse the teeth and gums, which could lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and thrush. Thrush is an infection of the mouth caused by fungus overgrowth that can cause painful patches in the mouth and on the tongue.
Excellent oral hygiene is key to preventing thrush. You can also address dry mouth by drinking plenty of water and managing your blood sugar.
Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in the mouth that feed on excess sugars. When you have diabetes, your saliva can actually have a higher glucose level, increasing the likelihood of cavities. As we know, cavities can cause discomfort, infection, and tooth loss.
Like with gum disease, good oral hygiene habits can prevent tooth decay. It is even more important to take good care of your teeth when they are more susceptible to cavities and decay.
Healthy Teeth with Diabetes
Having diabetes does not mean that you will automatically have dental problems. It is very much possible to maintain a healthy smile with good habits.
- Good oral hygiene. As we mentioned, healthy teeth and gums always start with regular brushing and flossing. Brush for two minutes twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and floss daily. Pay attention for early signs of cavities and gum disease.
- Monitor and control your blood sugar. Treating your diabetes is key to your oral and overall health. Follow your doctor’s advice, take your medications appropriately, and follow a healthy diet and lifestyle.
- Make Regular Dental Appointments. Regular cleanings and exams help you to avoid dental issues such as tooth decay and gingivitis. We can also monitor your gums and teeth to recognize the early signs of problems. Always tell your dentist if you have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Contact our office to schedule your six-month appointment and learn more about keeping your smile healthy with diabetes.