If you have diabetes, you already know that it’s a disease that affects your whole body. But did you know the ways it affects your mouth? That’s right, people with diabetes (of both types) are more likely to get oral health problems like gum disease. Since November is National Diabetes Month, now is the perfect time to learn about the connection between uncontrolled diabetes and dental health issues.
How Oral Health Is Linked to Diabetes
The link between diabetes and problems like gum disease is high blood sugar. When you don’t keep your blood sugar levels under control, it weakens your white blood cells, which are your body’s first line of defense against bacterial infections like gum disease.
Uncontrolled diabetes has been linked to multiple different oral health issues, such as:
- Dry mouth: A condition where your mouth doesn’t have enough saliva. This increases your risk for tooth decay and periodontal disease.
- Gum disease: Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is a bacterial infection in the gum tissue that can cause your gums to bleed, and even make your teeth come loose in their sockets.
- Poor healing of oral tissues: Those with uncontrolled diabetes don’t heal quickly after dental procedures like oral surgery because blood flow to the area may be damaged.
How to Prevent Oral Health Problems If You Have Diabetes
The best way to keep oral health issues at bay, as well as any other complications from diabetes, is to keep your blood sugar as close to normal as you can. Try and keep your hemoglobin A1C under 7%. Keeping a healthy diet and exercise regimen is the best method of getting your average blood sugar down to a healthy level.
It also helps to schedule regular checkups with your dentist or, even better, a periodontist, at least once every six months. A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in care of the gum tissue, so you can see why it’s extra beneficial for diabetics to see one. A regular dentist should still be enough to help keep your teeth and gums clean enough to prevent and fight off oral infections.
Having diabetes might make you more likely to get problems like gum disease, but that doesn’t mean it’s a guaranteed. Keep your blood sugar levels under control to prevent oral health problems from taking hold.
About the Author
Dr. Rick Cofer obtained his doctorate from Baylor School of Dentistry. He opened his practice, Premier Family Dental, in Waco, TX in 2012. He is able to perform periodontal therapy, also known as gum disease treatment, for diabetic patients. For more information, you can contact his office by clicking here or calling (254) 732-0309.