Having diabetes puts you at an increased risk for a number of other health problems, such as heart disease and stroke. The condition also increases your risk for certain oral health issues, namely gum disease. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, if you have diabetes you have considerably higher risk for gum disease and periodontitis than a non-diabetic. Developing gum disease then increases your risk for complications from the diabetes.
If you are diabetic, it’s imperative that you take care of your mouth, both for the health of your teeth and gums and for your overall health. Along with regular dental care, seeing your dentist often is essential.
Preventative Dental Care
Everyone should brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. A good habit of preventative dental care is especially important if you have diabetes, as your chance of developing cavities and tooth decay is higher.
Cavities develop when plaque, made up of sugars and bacteria, eats away at the enamel on your teeth, both on the outside surface and the areas between teeth. When you have diabetes, especially if the condition isn’t controlled, the levels of sugar in your blood and saliva are higher, which creates an ideal environment for plaque and cavities to develop.
When you brush, choose a toothpaste that contains fluoride for the most effectiveness and use a soft bristled brush to reduce the chance of irritating or inflaming your gums. Brush for about two to three minutes each time, preferably after meals. Floss at least once every day to remove plaque from between your teeth and just under the gum line.
Getting your diabetes under control will help you take better care of your oral health. It will also help you enjoy a healthier lifestyle overall. Talk to your doctor about your options for controlling diabetes. You might see an improvement if you make dietary changes, such as reducing the amount of sugar you eat and switching to a diet that contains a lot of fruit and vegetables. A low-sugar, high vegetable and whole foods diet will also help improve the state of your teeth and gums. If you can’t control your diabetes with diet alone, your doctor might prescribe medication to help.
Seeing a Dentist
Ideally, your medical doctor and your dentist will be on the same page about your diabetes. It’s important to let your dentist know that you have diabetes, as that might impact the type of treatment you receive. See your dentist at least twice a year for an examination and cleaning. If you have periodontitis or another mouth problem, such as dry mouth or a fungal infection, you may need to see your dentist more often for treatment.
When you do see your dentist, your blood sugar levels should be under control. Take your medication as prescribed before an examination, if needed. If you can’t get your glucose levels under control before an appointment, it’s usually best to reschedule.
Gum Disease Concerns
Gum disease and diabetes is a bit of a catch 22. Having diabetes puts you at greater risk for gum disease. Gum disease, in turn, increases your risk for diabetes or complications from diabetes, as the condition can raise your blood glucose levels. Having periodontitis can also make it harder for you to keep your blood sugar under control.
Depending on the severity of the gum disease, your dentist might recommend a non-surgical treatment or surgery to restore the gums, reduce the size of pockets or help the bone regenerate. If you do have to undergo periodontal surgery, it’s a must that you keep your diabetes under control. High blood sugar levels slow down the body’s rate of healing, which can raise your risk for infections or complications.
Working with your medical team can help you keep your mouth healthy and your diabetes under control. If you have gum disease and diabetes, call Miami periodontists Gallardo & Lamas for an appointment today at (305) 447-1447. Dr. Gallardo and Dr. Lamas will discuss your treatment options with you as well as ways to get your diabetes under control.