What do brushing and flossing have to do with diabetes? It’s easy to think they’re unrelated, but surprisingly diabetes has a big impact on dental health.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease where the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. The body needs insulin to use glucose as an energy source. Diabetes leads to high blood sugar levels, which can damage organs, blood vessels, and nerves and cause death and/or coma at high levels.
People with diabetes often have problems tasting foods and they may produce less saliva causing the mouth to feel dry, and because a person’s saliva protects their teeth, they can be at a higher risk for cavities and plaque build up. The gums can become inflamed and bleed easily resulting in gingivitis.
People with diabetes are more vulnerable to the millions of germs that live in the mouth, and the myriad dental problems that can be caused by them, including a decrease in blood supply to the gums making them more susceptible to disease. As a result, they are more likely to experience periodontal disease which can destroy the gums and the tissues holding the teeth and even the bones in place.
Types of Diabetes:
- Type 1
- Type 2
- Other forms
Additionally, diabetes can be brought on by the intake of certain medications. For example; schizophrenia and the use of prednisone.
Diabetics are at an increased risk for:
- Periodontal disease
- Dry mouth, which can lead to: soreness; ulcers; infections and cavities
Diabetes and Periodontal Disease
Due to the frequency and severity of periodontal disease among people with diabetes, periodontal disease is considered to be a diabetes complication. Not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to periodontal disease, periodontal disease may have the potential to affect blood sugar control and contribute to the progression of diabetes. Diabetics are more susceptible to bacterial infection and have a decreased ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums.
Oral Health Complications
- Blood vessels deliver oxygen and nourishment to body tissues, including the mouth, and carry waste away. Diabetes causes blood vessels to thicken, which slows the flow of nutrients and removal of harmful wastes. This can weaken the resistance of gum and bone tissue to infection.
- Smoking increases the chances of periodontal disease. Diabetic smokers aged 45+ are 20 times more likely to have severe periodontitis.
- The Immune system may not function properly, thus increasing the risk of periodontal disease.
Ways to help Decrease Risks of Gum Disease:
- Control blood sugar levels,
- Regular hygiene visits,
- Avoid smoking,
- If diagnosed with gum disease, it’s important to talk your oral health professional about next steps.
How Can Proper Oral Health Care Help?
Proper oral health care can help by eliminating or reducing the severity of gum or periodontal disease. You can achieve this by following these steps:
- Maintaining a regular hygiene care program
- Oral self-care
- Fluoride trays, gel, etc. for home use
- Probe for neuropathy issues (loss of feeling in hands, reducing brushing and flossing ability).
- Regular checks for thrush, dry mouth, sores, etc.
Visiting an oral health professional regularly can help reverse poor dental health! Don’t wait to take care and maintain your dental health! Contact our office today or visit our gum disease page to learn more!