Diabetes is a disease that interferes with how the body processes blood sugar, or glucose. Glucose is an important source of energy for cells in the muscles and tissues as well as the brain’s main source of fuel. It’s a necessary component of our body’s functioning sytsems.
According to the Mayo Clinic (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371444), common symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes include:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing sores
- Frequent infections, such as gums or skin infections
They go on to explain these two types of diabetes. Type 1 can develop at any age but typically appears during childhood or adolescence. Type 2 diabetes is the more common type, however, and can emerge at any age (although it occurs more often in adults over the age of 40).
If you are diabetic, it’s important to know that your teeth and gums are more vulnerable because of your disease. Diabetics have a higher risk of serious gum disease because they are more susceptible to bacterial infections with less ability to fight oral bacteria that attack gum tissues. (http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/oral-health-and-hygiene/diabetes-and-oral-health.html)
The American Dental Association (ADA) cautions diabetics that poorly controlled glucose levels increase the risk of developing advanced gum disease, the leading cause of adult tooth loss.
Other oral problems related to diabetes are thrush (a fungal infection in the mouth) and dry mouth, which can lead to ulcers, infections, and cavities. (https://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/FTDP_July2013_2.pdf?la=en)
Research also has found a unique connection between advanced periodontal disease and diabetes. While it has been long understood that people with diabetes are more susceptible to serious gum disease, studies now show that gum disease may contribute to the worsening of diabetes symptoms. One seems to aggravate the other, so to speak.
Research suggests the bacteria in infected gum tissues can enter the bloodstream. This triggers reactions of the immune system and causes the production of powerful molecules that can have harmful effects far beyond the oral cavity (mouth), including increases in blood sugar levels.
If you’re diabetic, the ADA advises the following to help you protect your smile while supporting your overall health:
• Brush your teeth gently twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush using a fluoridated toothpaste.
• Floss your teeth daily (or use another type of inter-dental cleaner).
• Be committed to your regular dental check-ups and cleanings. For some individuals, we may advise these visits every 4 months rather than every 6.
For diabetics with type 2 diabetes, keeping the gums healthy can help control the disease and even lower the risk of diabetic-related problems, such as blindness and kidney disease.
At Smile Your Best Dental, our desire is to support all patients in a way that complements their whole health. By maintaining good oral health, you create a smile that creates benefits from the inside out! And, regardless of our health, a healthy, bright smile is always a complement to our lives, every day!
Behind on dental check-ups? Feel your diabetes (or other health condition) is making you more vulnerable to gum disease and tooth loss? Call 219-987-5733 to learn ways that we can restore your smile to optimal health. New patients are always welcome!