The American Diabetes Association estimates that 23.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes (whether it be type 1, type 2, or gestational). At least another 7 million remain undiagnosed, and that doesn’t include the additional millions who are considered pre-diabetic. But what does diabetes have to do with oral health? A lot, actually.
Diabetes And Gum Disease
Diabetes is a chronic disease that either means the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin (type 1) or that the body doesn’t use it effectively (type 2 and gestational), both of which cause elevated blood glucose. The most serious impact elevated blood glucose has on oral health is that it simultaneously weakens the immune system and provides more food for the bacteria that attack teeth and gums.
This two-pronged attack is why 22% of diabetics also have gum disease, whether in the early stages of inflammation (gingivitis) or in the advanced stages (periodontitis) that threaten the teeth, gums, and supporting bone. The bacteria that causes gum disease can also travel through the bloodstream and make it even harder to regulate blood sugar.
In addition to increasing the risk of gingivitis and periodontitis, uncontrolled diabetes can also lead to a variety of other oral health problems, such as:
- Dry mouth
- Burning mouth syndrome
- Impaired or slower healing
- Increased severity and frequency of infections
- Fungal infections
- Salivary gland enlargement
What You Can Do
Now for the good news: even with diabetes, good oral health is within reach. Even better: keeping your teeth and gums healthy will also make diabetes easier to manage! Be sure to brush twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled brush and use fluoride toothpaste. Additionally, floss daily, use a non-alcoholic mouthwash, and don’t smoke. Careful regulation of sugar intake is a major factor as well.
Your Dentist’s Role
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, the standard two dental exams per year may not be enough. To be safe, we recommend that you increase the number of yearly visits to three or four. It is also crucial for us to know how you and your doctor are working together to manage your diabetes. Likewise, your doctor needs to know how we are working with you to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Smileboston Can Help Protect Your Oral Health
Smileboston Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry has two beautiful offices in the Boston area and offers full array of services ranging from general dentistry to full smile makeovers. To schedule an appointment at our Brookline location, call (617) 277-4100 or (781) 826-7577 for our South Shore location. For more information, please visit Smileboston online.