Diabetes And Your Dental Health

Diabetes And Your Dental Health

March 11, 2020 4:47 am Published by

If you have or have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, then it can feel like there is a lot of information to absorb. Here’s some information about how best to manage the impact diabetes has on your dental health.

  • What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a medical condition involving blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone that, in normal circumstances, the body produces to control blood sugar levels and to get energy. Diabetes occurs when insulin either isn’t there or stops working, and blood sugar levels get too high or too low. This can have an impact on health in lots of ways – not least of all your teeth.

Type 1 diabetes is where the body doesn’t produce insulin – at all. People with this type of diabetes are born with it. Type 2 is where insulin stops working so well, or the body doesn’t produce enough of it. Type 2 tends to develop in later life, or in those who are overweight.

It typically happens because the blood sugar level is too high for the body to be able to deal with it properly. Unfortunately, in the UAE there are an estimated 1 million people with diabetes – one of the highest rates in the world.

  • How does it affect my teeth?

Day-to-day, diabetes means you produce less saliva. This might not sound very worrying, but saliva has a key role to play in keeping your mouth healthy. Saliva helps rinse food detritus from the mouth and also neutralizes the acid produced when sugars and starches in food are converted by bacteria in the mouth. When saliva levels drop, bacteria get to take hold – feeding more, and producing more tooth enamel-damaging acid. Bacteria might also make their home along gumlines, resulting in gum disease. If you have diabetes, it’s essential that you go to the dentist such as Drs. Nicolas & Asp, at least every six months.

This helps make sure any signs of early tooth decay or gum disease are dealt with and not allowed to progress further. The dentist can perform a specialist professional cleaning, which removes the bacteria and sticky deposited plaque, and can be the first line of defense in gum disease treatment.

Blood sugar levels and gum health are closely linked in other ways too. While gum disease is a very common condition, it’s quite serious for those suffering from diabetes. If as a diabetic you do develop gum disease, then this can make blood sugar levels harder to control. In turn, this exacerbates mouth problems because the blood supply to the teeth and gums is reduced, making it harder for your immune system to fight off the problem-causing bacteria. All in all, it’s a good idea to find a good dentist as well as a doctor and make sure you are fighting the problem at all levels!

  • How to take care of your teeth and gums as a diabetic

Make sure you don’t smoke – and if you do, you must quit! This stretches your already-overloaded immune system. Eat a healthy, varied diet, one that is low in sugars and starches that feed the ‘bad’ bacteria in your mouth. Brush teeth thoroughly for two minutes twice a day. Consider using a daily antiseptic mouthwash – while it might not taste so good, it can be really effective in helping remove bacteria. And, of course, see your dentist at Drs. Nicolas & Asp every six months at least. Separately, make sure you closely monitor your blood sugar levels and keep them as steady as possible.

If at any point you develop pain, sore or bleeding gums, or bad breath that doesn’t disappear of its own accord, then you should schedule a visit to your dentist. These are all signs of gum disease that your dentist can help you beat.

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