While taking good care of your teeth and gums is important for anyone, those living with diabetes must be especially vigilant. Diabetes has been linked to a range of health conditions including heart disease, kidney disease, and vision loss, but it can also increase your risk of developing gum disease, abscesses, and potentially serious infections.
Because November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, the team at American Dental is taking this opportunity to tell you more about the connection between diabetes and oral health conditions and give you some tips about how to take better care of your teeth, whether or not you are living with diabetes.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that affects your body’s ability to produce or effectively utilize insulin, a hormone that allows your cells to turn sugars into energy. Without enough insulin, sugar builds up in the bloodstream, which takes a toll on every system in the body. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood, but Type 2 diabetes develops later in life. While there is no cure for diabetes, it can be managed with diet, exercise, weight loss, and insulin injections.
Diabetes and Oral Health Conditions
When sugar builds up in the blood, it can also be found in higher concentrations in the saliva. This means your mouth will be awash in sugar that nourishes your oral biome. This can allow harmful bacterial colonies to grow out of control, leaving plaque on the teeth and gums that eventually hardens to become tartar. Tartar buildup along the gum line is one of the main contributors to gum recession, gingivitis, and gum disease. Your oral bacteria also release harmful byproducts that eat away at the tooth enamel, causing tooth decay. Diabetes also reduces blood circulation and weakens the immune system, making it more difficult for your body to fight infections in the teeth and gums.
Oral Health Care for People Living with Diabetes
Caring for your teeth and gums at home when you are living with diabetes is really no different than it is for anyone else. You should still brush twice every day, floss once a day and as needed after meals, and use an American Dental Association-approved mouthwash. You should also schedule a dental checkup every 6 months. When you are getting a dental exam, talk to your dentist about your condition so you can work together to develop a treatment plan for the future. Be aware that you must be especially careful about keeping your teeth clean and keep an eye out for cavities, gum recession, tooth pain, and other issues. If you notice a problem, be sure to schedule a dental appointment right away.
General Dentistry in Chicago
If you need a checkup and you live in the Chicago area, American Dental has 8 locations to serve you. Click the “Make an Appointment” button at the top of this page to find a list of clinics and call or schedule online if you need a dental exam in River West Chicago or anywhere else in Chicagoland.