Oral Health for Diabetics

Oral health is particularly important for people that are diabetic.  As you know from your elementary school days, sugar adversely affects the health of teeth. Now we are beginning to understand that there is an irrefutable link between diabetes and oral health for the almost 24 million diabetics in America.

Oral health studies have shown that diabetes increases the likelihood of contracting gum disease (link to story). If you contract gum disease, your teeth may pull away from the gums, creating pockets for food build-up, germs and infection. There is no cure for gum disease, but it can be managed to prevent tooth loss or tooth extraction.

Here is the rub: Recent studies have found that diabetes contributes to gum disease, and conversely, gum disease contributes to diabetes. Diabetics are more prone to having serious gum disease which is known to affect blood glucose levels that lead to diabetes. Diabetics also tend to contract bacterial infections that may attack the gums, and their bodies don’t fight off such infections as well as non-diabetics.

The double edge sword for diabetics is preventable with good oral hygiene practices. Simple monitoring of your blood glucose level does a world of good. Visiting a dentist every six months for general dentistry helps immensely. Consistent flossing and brushing greatly diminish these and other common diabetic-related oral issues like thrush (a fungal infection) and dry mouth syndrome. Thrush and dry mouth syndrome may cause soreness, cavities, ulcers, and infections- particularly difficult for diabetics. If you are a smoker, try hard to quit. Also you should remove and thoroughly clean your dentures every day. Failure to do so creates breeding grounds for germs and bacteria. Have discussions with your dentist and hygienist about your diabetic condition. Obviously, if your blood sugar levels are fluctuating, inform your dental office, who will likely postpone any emergency dental work. Before dental work is performed, take steps maintain proper sugar levels. . A tell-tale sign of higher blood sugar is dry mouth, and less saliva creates a greater chance for tooth decay and dental infection. The remedy? Drink more fluids and chew sugarless gum to trigger more saliva.

A clean bill of oral health is important for diabetics. And the rewards are great! A bright white smile and a healthy mouth can go a long way in life!

If you would like to learn more about diabetes and oral health, call Dr. Mark Sweeney, an Austin Texas cosmetic dentist at (512) 380-1300.