If you struggle with diabetes, you know that the condition can increase your risk for a number of health conditions. However, while your doctor may have cautioned you about the effects of diabetes on your heart or kidneys, no one may ever have talked to you about diabetes and dental health. The condition can increase your risk for several major dental concerns, but, luckily, with vigilant preventative care, it is fairly easy to maintain your beautiful smile.
The Connection between Diabetes and Dental Health
Diabetes decreases your body’s ability to fight off bacteria. Thus, the oral bacteria that cause gum disease are more likely to flourish and multiply. Eventually, they can form pockets in your gum tissue and cause your gums to pull away from the underlying bone. Second, diabetes can cause your blood vessels to thicken. This will decrease the flow of nutrients to your gum tissue, and it will also prevent waste removal. This process will create an environment where bacteria can thrive. As a result, diabetics are more likely to suffer from gum disease and its effects, including bleeding, gum recession, and tooth loss. However, research shows that when patients are able to control their blood sugar levels, they have a smaller risk of developing gum disease.
Interestingly, the connection between diabetes and dental health seems to go the other way, as well. Studies show that when diabetics receive gum disease treatment, they are able to control their blood sugar more effectively. Although scientists are still researching this connection, they believe that, as oral bacteria enter the blood stream, your immune system will respond. In turn, this will raise your blood sugar.
Be Extra Cautious about Your Dental Health
If you have diabetes, it is more important than ever to take care of your dental health. Proper care can prevent gum disease from developing. If you already have periodontitis, the right precautions may keep your symptoms at bay. For optimal dental health, be sure to brush at least twice a day using a soft-bristled brush and ADA®-approved toothpaste. You should also floss at least once a day, particularly before bed. Mouthwash, an often overlooked part of oral care, is also important, especially if you have a compromised immune system. Finally, you should schedule your routine dental visits. We typically recommend biannual appointments. However, if you are at a higher risk for gum disease due to diabetes, we may suggest more frequent visits.
ABOUT YOUR NORTH RICHLAND HILLS FAMILY DENTIST
With over 25 years of professional experience, Dr. Steven M. Huffstutler and his caring team proudly provide exceptional preventive, cosmetic, and restorative dental treatment to patients and their families. Our patients come from across Dallas/Ft. Worth, including North Richland Hills, Denton, the Mid-cities, Southlake, and all surrounding communities. We also have extensive experience helping patients find relief from painful TMJ disorders (various forms of jaw dysfunction). To schedule an appointment with Dr. Huffstutler, contact our office today by calling 817-918-3038.