What Does the Dentist Have to Do with My Diabetes?
Did you know that 1 in 5 cases of tooth loss is linked to diabetes? Here at FDA we believe that good oral hygiene is an important part of maintaining your overall health and this is especially true for our patients with diabetes. Many people don’t know about the link between oral hygiene and diabetes. Diabetes increases your risk of dental diseases and has symptoms that impact your mouth. While there is no cure for diabetes, you can take steps to manage the disease by maintaining your health–including your oral health. In this month’s article, we look into the correlation between diabetes and oral health and talk about some best practices to help keep your diabetes under control.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when you have blood sugar levels that are too high. In diabetics, the insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas) cannot convert the blood sugar into energy for the body to use. The blood sugar, or glucose, stays in the blood and over time these increased levels of glucose in the blood can cause some serious health problems such as stroke, kidney disease, and nerve damage. The most common types of diabetes are Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes. Diabetes is always a serious condition and it is estimated that there are 8.1 million people living with diabetes who have yet to be diagnosed.
Diabetes Symptoms in Your Mouth
One place you may experience symptoms is in your mouth. Here are some of the most common oral symptoms:
- Dry mouth. People with diabetes often have less saliva in their mouth so you may find yourself being parched. A good fix is drinking lots of water and eating healthy, crunchy foods to get the saliva flowing. This is extra important because having less saliva to wash away sugars can lead to cavities.
- Gum disease. If you notice bleeding when you brush or floss, you may have gum disease. If gum disease goes unchecked it can lead to tooth loss. Research shows keeping your blood sugar under control can help improve gum disease.
- Problems with taste. You may begin to notice that food tastes differently from the way you remember, particularly sweet foods. If you have a persistent bad taste in your mouth, please come see us.
- Delayed wound healing. Diabetes impacts your immune system and if you have increased blood sugar in your mouth it can slow down the healing process. If you notice a cold sore or cut in your mouth that doesn’t seem to go away, make sure you mention this to us at your next check up.
- Periodontal disease. Nearly 22% of all diabetics develop this dental disease. It is a chronic, inflammatory condition that can destroy your gums and bone, and can also lead to increased blood sugar levels. Early signs includes bad breath, swollen gums, and painful chewing.
Your Dental Action Plan
If you have diabetes, working with a team of healthcare professionals including your dentist is paramount. Here at FDA, we are committed to giving you the best care possible and will work with you to make sure your mouth is healthy and supporting your overall health needs. As with all our patients, people with diabetes should avoid smoking, brush twice a day, floss daily, and come in for regular dental cleanings and checkups.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above or need to schedule your next checkup, please give us a call at 207.781.5900 today. Let us help you keep your health at its best!
Image courtesy of www.niddk.nih.gov