It’s commonly known that those with diabetes have a greater risk of developing oral health problems. However, there are steps that can be taken to maintain good oral health to prevent major dental complications.
Diabetics are more susceptible to gum disease because diabetes inhibits saliva production which is crucial in ridding the mouth of bacterial plaque. Coupled with the fact that the disease can reduce the body’s ability to fight infections, periodontitis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the teeth) tends to be more severe for diabetic patients. To make matters worse, a periodontal infection may cause your blood sugar to rise, which makes it more difficult to control your diabetes. Unfortunately, that increased risk for infection makes restorative and cosmetic dentistry procedures such as dental implants, gum grafting and other oral surgery much more difficult.
It’s important to try and stay one step ahead of any oral health issues, but to do that, one has to know what to do. With these five tips, you’ll be on your way to optimal dental health,
1. Monitor your blood sugar levels
As a diabetic person, your blood sugar levels are something you have to monitor carefully to avoid blood sugar swings. It is important to keep regular checks on it, watching what you eat and drink, as well as getting enough sleep and managing stress. The condition is something that you and your doctor will manage closely to keep blood sugar levels within their target range.
2. Brush your teeth regularly
Poor oral care can cause problems for your teeth and gums. When you do not have a good oral hygiene routine that includes brushing twice daily and flossing at least once, bacterial plaque can damage your teeth and gums. Ultimately, this may cause tooth decay, gum erosion and eventually you could lose your teeth. Additionally, it also makes your mouth vulnerable to infections.
Brushing every morning and night with either an electric toothbrush or manually is a crucial tip. It is one of the most effective ways of keeping bacterial plaque under control. Use a soft-bristled brush so that you do not damage the gums. There is no need for harsh scrubbing, as that can cause gum irritation.
3. Floss your teeth every day
There’s often plaque under your gum line and between your teeth. However, flossing will help to remove the plaque and keep your teeth fresh, safe, and healthy. Flossing your teeth remains one of the most effective ways to keep your gums healthy. If you have difficulty using dental floss, you can get a waxed alternative or interdental brushes that are very effective in removing debris and disturbing the plaque film that forms on the teeth.
4. Visit your dentist regularly
The dentist should be one of the professionals you consult regularly. They will be able to identify any problems that you may not be aware of — and early diagnosis and treatment can deal with issues before they become bigger problems.
You should visit the dentist as regularly as they recommend, which will typically be 3-4 times a year. During your visit, you should have a check-up and professional cleaning or an appointment with the hygienist for scaling and polishing to remove plaque and tartar (calculus) from your teeth, particularly around the gum line.
5. Quit smoking
We’re all aware of the health dangers of smoking but for diabetics, it means that managing the disease is more difficult. Nicotine lessens the effectiveness of insulin, so smokers need more to regulate their blood sugar levels.
For diabetics, excess insulin causes the body to absorb too much glucose from the blood. It also causes the liver to release less glucose. This means that the glucose levels in the blood are dangerously low (hypoglycemia). Severe hypoglycemia can lead to seizures, a coma, or death.
Fluctuating blood sugar levels are not good for oral health. Furthermore, smokers are more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers. Thus, quitting smoking will do wonders for your oral and general health.
Having diabetes can mean you are more susceptible to gum diseases and oral issues. However, this depends on how you protect your dental health. While these five tips give you a blueprint to work with, you will need to engage in them adequately. Most importantly, you should visit your healthcare professionals regularly. Start your journey to effective dental health today. You’ll be glad you did.
About the Author
Amanda Duffy has considerable knowledge in the field of dentistry and oral health, gained from a 20-year career in the healthcare sector – including a decade in the UK’s National Health Service, and years of experience writing high-quality dental content.