Oral Health and Diabetes
Taking care of your teeth... it's important too!
Having diabetes can increase your risk for oral health problems such as gum disease. The link goes the other way, too, most experts believe if you have gum disease, it may make it harder to keep blood sugar under control. So the diabetes and oral health link goes both ways. The good news is that taking care of your oral health will help not only your teeth and gums, but perhaps help your diabetes control other oral health problems, although not as common, are also associated with having diabetes.
Having diabetes can make you less able to fight off infection, including gum infections that can lead to serious gum disease. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease, -the gums are swollen, soft, and may bleed, especially during brushing or flossing. If gingivitis progresses, the gums may begin to separate from the teeth, forming pockets that can trap bacteria and boost the risk of infections. Untreated, the infections can destroy the underlying bones that holds the teeth in place. This is a type of periodontal disease which may require surgery.
With diabetes, you may heal more slowly after oral surgery. Your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics to keep post-operative infection at bay. Pay close attention to your blood sugar levels and control before and after oral surgery. If you have diabetes, you are also at risk for fungal infections in the mouth, called oral candidiasis or thrush. This is true even if you wear dentures. Dry mouth, called xerostomia, is another common problem among people with diabetes. Saliva is important to oral health because it helps wash away food particles and keep the mouth moist. When you don't have enough saliva, bacteria thrives, tissues can get irritated and inflamed, and your teeth can be more prone to decay.
Taking care of your oral hygiene at home every day is crucial. Make sure you brush twice a day and floss once a day. Using an antibacterial mouthwash or toothpaste can help reduce bacteria in the mouth that can cause gingivitis. Examine your mouth for an inflammation or signs of bleeding gums. If you notice either, let your dentist know as soon as possible and be sure to visit the dentist regularly. Be sure to tell your dentist that you have been diagnosed with diabetes.