Diabetes is widely understood as a metabolic disease that impacts the body's ability to process sugar and increases the risk of damage to the vital organs. However, many are unaware of the risk this disease poses to oral health. Diabetes increases the risk of serious oral health problems, including gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss. Restorative dentistry treatments can help diabetics achieve a beautiful, healthy smile free of dental damage and disease. To discuss your treatment options, or to learn more about dental care for diabetics, schedule a consultation with Lake Jackson, TX dentists Brian K. Bell and Justin J. Crocker.
Diabetes and Oral Health Problems
Diabetes, specifically uncontrolled diabetes, is known to be dangerous to general health but it is also dangerous to oral health. Diabetes can significantly impact oral health by increasing the risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss. Not only are diabetics at increased risk of oral health problems, they are also more likely to experience multiple oral health problems at one time, compounding dental damage. Some common oral health problems among diabetics include:
- Periodontitis: Periodontitis, or gum disease, is a bacterial infection of the gums caused by bacteria, plaque, and tartar buildup. Gum disease often begins with bleeding gums while brushing and flossing but, if left untreated, it can cause pockets to form between the gums and teeth and spread to the jawbone, eventually leading to tooth decay or tooth loss.
- Dry mouth: Diabetics are more likely to suffer from dry mouth, a condition in which inadequate saliva is produced. Saliva helps wash food away from the teeth, neutralizes acids within the mouth, and replenishes minerals to the enamel, helping reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Dry mouth leaves the teeth at risk of decay and also increases the risk of gum disease and oral ulcers.
- Tooth decay and tooth loss: Both gum disease and dry mouth increase the risk of tooth decay, which in turn can lead to tooth loss.
- Oral thrush: Oral thrush, or oral candidiasis, is an oral fungal infection common in diabetics. Oral thrush is recognized by white lesions on the gums, inner cheeks, tongue, or roof of the mouth.
Dental Care Tips for Diabetics
Unfortunately, diabetes increases the risk of many dangerous oral health issues. The good news is there are steps diabetics can take to reduce their risk of oral health problems and protect their smile, including:
- Keep your diabetes under control: Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and keeping your diabetes under control is essential not just for general health but also for oral health. Be sure to take medications as directed, eat a diabetic-friendly diet, and see your physician for regular checkups.
- Brush and floss: Brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day helps reduce the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.
- Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash: Rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash after brushing and flossing can help further reduce the risk of gum disease and oral infections.
- Swish with water between brushings: Swishing the mouth with water after eating and between brushings is particularly helpful for those who suffer from dry mouth, helping to remove food remnants and neutralize acids within the mouth.
- See your dentist every six months: Seeing your dentist every six months can allows any signs of damage or concern to be detected early and professional cleanings can reduce the risk of gum disease.
Receive Your Personalized Treatment Plan
For more dental care tips, or to receive your personalized treatment plan, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Drs. Bell and Crocker.