According to the Centers for Disease Control’s National Diabetes Statistics Report, an astonishing 34.2 million Americans — over 1 in 10 — have diabetes. All of those people need to be aware of the well-established connection between diabetes and dental care. The connections between diabetes and your oral health are significant, and something anyone with diabetes should discuss carefully with their Naples dentist. Diabetes is a condition that affects how your body manages blood sugar. Uncontrolled or inconsistently controlled diabetes affects the performance of the body’s white blood cells, blood cells that are essential to resisting infection. When your white blood cells are unable to function properly, you are more vulnerable to infections — including tooth decay — because of the inability to fight off bacteria.
An increased risk of tooth decay and cavities is just one oral health implication of poorly managed diabetes. There are other potential oral health problems associated with diabetes as well.
Dry mouth - People with poorly controlled diabetes often experience more significant dry mouth, a condition where your body produces less saliva than usual. Saliva is essential to good oral health because it: flushes potentially harmful bacteria from your mouth; and because it protects your teeth enamel from the activity of bacteria. There are several common medications that reduce saliva production. If you have diabetes and take any of those medications, ask your doctor and a dentist Naples about how to protect your oral health.
Gingivitis and periodontitis - The gums of people with diabetes are more vulnerable to bleeding than individuals without diabetes. Diabetes can also cause blood vessels in your body to thicken, including the blood vessels supplying your oral tissues. Those changes to your blood vessels tend to slow the delivery of nutrients to your mouth. As a result, you may have more difficulty eliminating waste and resisting oral infections.
Poor healing - Because of the alterations of blood flow associated with untreated or poorly controlled diabetes, individuals with diabetes recover from oral surgery and procedures much more slowly. Patients with poorly controlled diabetes may be poor candidates for things like root canals, extractions, implants and even the placement of crowns or fillings until that diabetes is brought under control.
Tips for people with diabetes
Diabetes has serious health implications, generally, and potentially harmful consequences for your oral hygiene, too. To ensure your general and oral health, follow these six tips:
- Consult with your doctors about how to get your blood sugar under control. There are several different and effective treatment options available for diabetes.
- If your dentist has recommended any dental or periodontal treatment, ensure that your dentist consults with your doctor about minimizing and managing the unique diabetes-related risks of that treatment
- Make sure that your dentist knows about your diagnosis and has a complete, accurate and current list of your medications and their dosages
- Don’t skip dental appointments. The potential consequences of diabetes on your oral health make it especially important that your dentist is able to monitor changes to your teeth, gums and oral soft tissues. Your dentist will do that at each oral exam near you and do whatever is necessary to keep your mouth healthy by performing a dental cleaning in Naples as frequently as necessary
- Don’t rely only on your dentist to ensure your oral health at regular dental appointments, but develop and stick to a good plan to brush and floss regularly to keep your teeth clean. People with diabetes should be sure to brush their teeth even when eating out away from home. Keep a travel bag with a toothbrush and some toothpaste on hand at all times.
- Quit smoking. Like diabetes, smokers suffer delayed healing times and increased risks of oral infection. The combination of smoking and diabetes is a significant risk factor for serious oral health issues.
Your dentist is an essential member of your healthcare team. You should fully inform your dentist of any medical conditions you have so that they can respect any unique risks and contribute to your overall health. That’s especially true about diabetes.