According to the Diabetes Research Institute, more than 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. Are you among those millions? If so, you have likely received some education on how you can manage your condition and what may happen if it is left uncontrolled. In this blog post, a dentist in Ken Caryl honors National Diabetes Month by discussing just one way in which unmanaged diabetes could affect you — it can have a drastic impact on your oral health.
Individuals with diabetes are much more likely than the general population to develop gum disease. That is because diabetes compromises the body’s ability to fight infections. When bacteria invade the gum tissue, your body may not be able to stop it from causing damage. If gum disease is not properly treated, it can eat away at the bones that support the teeth and eventually lead to tooth loss. In fact, according to one estimate, one in five cases of total tooth loss are related to diabetes.
Gum disease can do more than lead to tooth loss. It also has a strong correlation with a number of systemic conditions, including cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s.
High blood sugar levels may decrease your body’s saliva production, leading to a dry mouth. Since saliva is one of your mouth’s first defenses against harmful bacteria, not having enough of it puts you at an increased risk of tooth decay and bad breath.
Oral thrush is a fungal infection that can occur in individuals who frequently take antibiotics to fight diabetes-related infections. The infection can cause a burning sensation on the tongue and throughout the mouth. If your blood sugar levels are not controlled, the situation is even worse because high blood sugar can increase the amount of glucose in your saliva; fungus thrives in such an environment.
What You Can Do
The above information does not have to scare you. Rather, it should make you aware of what is at stake and motivate you to protect your oral and overall well-being. Here are some specific things you can do to maintain a healthy smile despite your diabetes:
- Attend a dental checkup in Ken Caryl at least twice a year. You may need to visit your dentist even more often if you have been diagnosed with gum disease.
- Keep your dentist updated about your condition. Your dentist should know about your diabetes diagnosis and be aware of any medication that you are taking for it.
- Maintain excellent oral hygiene. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an ADA-approved mouthwash can do much to fight harmful bacteria in your mouth.
- Manage your diabetes. Your primary care practitioner can help you design a diet and exercise plan that should keep your blood sugar levels within an acceptable range.
Diabetes can devastate your oral health — but it does not have to. Your commitment to good habits can do much to help your mouth and body thrive for many years to come.
About the Author
Dr. Susan Kutis is a general and emergency dentist in Ken Caryl who believes strongly in empowering her patients to enjoy a lifetime of healthy smiles. She offers a range of preventive and restorative services that can help everyone, including diabetics, to achieve and maintain sound teeth and gums. To learn more about Dr. Kutis and our practice, contact us at 303-973-1112.