Visit Your Dentist During American Diabetes Month
Understanding the link between diabetes and oral health is important for everyone.
Whether you are one of the nearly 30 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes or one of the 86 million with prediabetes, understanding the link between diabetes and oral health is extremely important to your well-being. This November, we urge you to celebrate American Diabetes Month by visiting your dentist for a checkup and helping to raise awareness of the importance of proper dental care for individuals suffering from or at risk of diabetes.
Understanding the Link Between Diabetes and Gum Disease
Research has shown a two-way link between diabetes and gum disease: not only are diabetic individuals at higher risk for developing gum disease, but prediabetic individuals with serious, uncontrolled gum disease may be at higher risk for faster progression of their disease.
Gum disease progresses more than twice as quickly in diabetic individuals with poorly managed blood glucose levels. High blood sugar can cause drymouth, which makes it harder for salvia to wash plaque bacteria and the food scraps this bacteria feeds on off of teeth. This allows the bacteria to thrive, spread into gum pockets, and cause gum disease.
Once gum disease takes hold, diabetics will find it difficult to overcome it because their high blood glucose levels impair their ability to heal after an oral infection. Just like any infection, an oral infection can cause blood sugar to rise, which in turn can make diabetes harder to control. It’s a vicious cycle, but the good news is that you can interrupt the cycle with proper dental care at home and in the dentist’s chair.
Why Routine Dental Care Matters
Routine dental care is important for diabetic and prediabetic individuals for two main reasons.
First of all, routine dental cleanings can help keep plaque under control to help reduce the risk of gum disease and prevent an infection from affecting your blood sugar levels.
Secondly, routine dental exams provide the opportunity for an expert dentist to discover oral health issues you may not yet be aware of. For example, sometimes early gum disease sufferers may not have obvious symptoms like pain and bleeding, but they still need treatment. Your dentist can help diagnose gum disease early so you can get it under control before it has a chance to damage teeth and bone and contribute to other health problems. Your dentist can also check for ulcers, infections, cavities, and other issues that may indicate the need for improved blood sugar control.
Remember, people with diabetes have special dental care needs so be sure to inform your dentist of your condition and any medications you may be taking.