Diabetes and your Oral Health

When you have diabetes, high blood sugar levels can affect your entire body including your teeth and gums. People with diabetes are more prone to conditions that may harm their oral health, so it’s essential to follow good dental care practices and to pay special attention to any changes in your oral health and consult with your dental team regularly.

Here are a few points to remember to keep you at your optimum oral health: Cavities and gum disease

Whether you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, managing your blood sugar level is key. The higher your blood sugar level, the higher your risk of:

1. Tooth decay (cavities).

Your mouth naturally contains many types of bacteria. When starches and sugars in food and beverages interact with these bacteria, a sticky film known as plaque forms on your teeth. The acids in plaque attack the hard, outer surface of your teeth (enamel). This can lead to cavities. The higher your blood sugar level, the greater the supply of sugars and starches — and the more acid wearing away at your teeth. You can combat this by keeping your blood sugar level as close to normal, and of course practice the habit of daily flossing and brushing three times per day.

2. Early gum disease (gingivitis).

Diabetes reduces your ability to fight bacteria. If you don’t remove plaque with daily brushing and flossing, and regular dental deep cleaning it’ll harden under your gum line into a substance called tartar (calculus). The longer plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, the more they irritate the gingiva — the part of your gum around the base of your teeth. In time, your gums will become swollen and bleed easily. This is gingivitis.

3. Advanced gum disease (periodontitis).

Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to a more serious infection called periodontitis, which destroys the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth. Eventually, periodontitis causes your gums to pull away from your teeth and your teeth to loosen and even fall out. Periodontitis tends to be more severe among people who have diabetes because diabetes lowers the ability to resist infection and slows healing. An infection such as periodontitis may also cause your blood sugar level to rise, which makes your diabetes more difficult to control. Preventing and treating periodontitis can help improve blood sugar control.

 Some tips to consider when your visit your dentist next:

 At each visit update your dentist about the status of your diabetes. For instance IE: know your HgA1C level to determine how well controlled your diabetes is (good control is indicated by a level under 7%). If you’ve had a hypoglycemic episode in the past (low blood sugar, also called an insulin reaction), you are at increased risk to have another one. Tell your dentist when your last episode was, how frequently such episodes occur, and when you took your last dose of insulin, if you take it.

See your diabetes doctor before scheduling treatment for periodontal disease. Ask your doctor to talk to your dentist or periodontist about your overall medical condition before any dental treatment is performed. If oral surgery is planned, your doctor or dentist will tell you if you need to take any pre-surgical antibiotics or need to change your meal schedule or the timing and dosage of if you take insulin.

Make sure to give your dentist your diabetes doctor’s name and phone number to include in your personal file. This information should be readily accessible by your dentist should any questions or concerns arise. Bring your dentist a list of all the names and dosages of all medications you are currently taking. Your dentist will need to know this information to best prescribe medications least likely to interfere with the medications you are already taking.

Keep in mind that healing may take longer in people with diabetes. Always follow your dentist’s post-treatment instructions closely.

 And remember….Prevention is Key for healthy teeth and gums!

Keven Peoples