Diabetes and Your Smile

Effective dental management is vital for patients with diabetes mellitus. If you have diabetes, you may have a lowered resistance to infections, delayed healing, and multiple systemic infections. The presence of an infection such as periodontitis, a gum disease, may intensify symptoms and make diabetes more difficult to regulate.

Diabetes affects how your body metabolizes sugar. As we eat, sugar is turned into energy. In Type I diabetes, the body doesn’t produce adequate levels of insulin – a hormone that transports sugar from your blood to use it as an energy. In Type II diabetes, the body is unresponsive to insulin.

Warning signs of untreated diabetes are excessive hunger, thirst, and frequent urinating. And most of the time, these warning signs may prevail in your mouth such as:

  • Excessive dryness of mouth or xerostomia
  • Without saliva protecting the teeth, dryness may cause increased tooth decay
  • Bleeding gums, especially during brushing
  • Inflamed, reddish gums
  • Delayed healing of wounds, especially after tooth extraction

Why are People with Diabetes More Prone to Gum Disease?

 Aside from oral-related warning signs, patients with undiagnosed or untreated diabetes are also prone to gum disease.

There are numerous bacteria living in our mouth and if these bacteria establish a home in your gums, it can cause periodontal disease or gum disease. Poorly controlled gum health may alter blood sugar levels; infections affect insulin requirements and may lead to unstable diabetes.

Diabetes does not directly cause gum disease, but it may lower resistance and increase susceptibility.

How Dental Care Can Help You Fight Diabetes?

As much as possible, person with diabetes should take preventative measures to reduce injuries and infections to avoid further destabilizing blood sugar levels.

Regular dental visits which involve routine oral prophylaxis (teeth cleaning) and deep cleaning are important to maintain good oral health. Having your teeth routinely cleaned will prevent bacteria build-up in the gum area… even beneath the gums! And of course, practicing good oral hygiene care at home by brushing and flossing your teeth 2-3 times a day or after every meal.

Avoid frequent snacking to prevent increase build-up of plaque on teeth. Dentists also recommend smoking patients to quit smoking to avoid aggregating gum disease.

Above all, changing to a healthier diet and exercising can help regulate blood sugar levels. After having a medical check-up, regulating your blood sugar levels by taking diabetes-related medications should also be implemented. Good blood sugar levels will help your body fight any bacterial or fungal infections in your mouth.

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