One of the things that is becoming more and more obvious is the link between your overall health and your oral health. Because the mouth is home to millions of bacteria, it can negatively impact the body through the bloodstream. Let’s take a look at the interrelation of diabetes and oral health.
For starters, diabetes is a disease which affects your heart, kidneys, nerves, eyes, and mouth. Because diabetes lowers the ability of your body to fight infection, it can lead to various oral health issues, including gum disease, dry mouth, tooth loss, and cavities. But that’s not all. Poor oral health can also impact your diabetes management. In fact, oral infections can lead to increased blood sugar which means you will need more insulin to control it.
Oral Health: When it comes to your oral health, diabetes can damage the salivary glands, putting you at risk for tooth decay. Because the body heals slower with diabetes, you are at increased risk for infection after treatments such as gum surgery, dental implantation, and tooth extractions. In addition, you may be more vulnerable to gum disease because of infection, as well as losing teeth and supportive bone material. Diabetes also puts you at higher risk for mouth ulcers and oral candidiasis (a fungal infection of the mouth, or thrush).
Diabetes Management: If you are a diabetic, you will want to manage it and control it via medication and diet as prescribed by your doctor. You will want to keep your dentist apprised of the condition and management of your diabetes. Be sure to have your dentist treat any oral health issues such as abscessed tooth infections and gum infections to help stabilize blood sugar.
Oral Hygiene: Another key element of care is maintaining proper oral hygiene. You will not want to neglect your daily oral hygiene care. This means brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each session and flossing at least once daily. Find a flossing method which works for you and maintain it. If you have issues with gum disease, you may consider rinsing with an antimicrobial mouthwash to lower bacteria levels in the mouth.
Nutritional Diet: Let’s start with hydration. You want to prevent dry mouth, an oral condition with reduces healthy saliva flow aggravated by diabetes. Drink lots of clean water, chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva production, and avoid diuretic beverages like alcohol and caffeinated drinks. Eat healthy, nutrition-packed foods and balanced meals (including Vitamin C) while avoiding sugary, starchy, empty-calorie snacks. Consuming fresh vegetables, low glycemic fruit, and lean proteins and dairy will help you fight gum disease and tooth decay while managing your diabetes.
Dental Care: Maintain a healthy relationship with your dentist by keeping your dental team aware of your condition. Make sure your dentist knows about your diabetes and keep all scheduled six-month dental cleanings and checkups. Early detection and treatment of oral issues, including tooth decay and gum disease, will help you manage your diabetes and your smile more effectively. Your dentist will remove hardened plaque (tartar) and clean any infected tissues under the gums so that they will adhere properly to your teeth.
If you wear oral appliances like dentures, your dentist will make sure that they continue to fit correctly to avoid irritation and possible infection of the gum tissues. If you have chronic dry mouth impeding healthy saliva production, your dentist may prescribe saliva substitutes, such as artificial drops. Finally, if you experience any oral issues, please see your dentist immediately for treatment.
If you have diabetes, working closely with your physician and your dentist will help you maintain a healthy smile and a healthy body for a healthy life!