Why is Oral Health Critical for Diabetes?
It is estimated that one-third of the people in the United States either have or are at risk for developing diabetes. Studies have shown that diabetics are more susceptible to gum disease and oral infections. If you do happen to have diabetes, oral health and professional dental visits are extremely important! Good oral health can help you prevent or identify early gum problems that could have a huge impact on your health!
Recent studies presented at the International Association for Dental Research have found connections between gum disease and fat metabolism. One study suggests that infections cause metabolic disturbances and that periodontal disease is one of the most common chronic infections. Bacteria in gum disease may interfere with fat metabolism, leading to elevated LDL-cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol).
In the poorly controlled diabetic person, oral infections and gum disease frequently are more severe. Diet and exercise not only help improve the quality of life of someone living with diabetes, but they also help maintain good oral health.
If you have diabetes, blood-sugar levels must be checked regularly, as well as triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Dental checkups are recommended every three-months to maintain excellent oral health. Dental visits should be kept short and as stress-free as possible. Eat and take your medications as directed, before your scheduled appointments with your dentist.
It is very important to be vigilant about your oral care when you are healthy but even more so upon receiving the diagnosis of diabetes. Here’s why:
Diabetes causes the body to become more prone to infections, and also causes your body to have a reduced capacity to battle any foreign microorganisms that invade the body and cause infection. One of the primary sites that microorganisms like to live is in the mouth and gums.
Due to the presence of higher levels of blood glucose (sugar) for longer periods of time than non-diabetics, diabetic patients suffer from tooth and gum problems much more frequently. Higher blood sugar levels cause bacteria to thrive. A person will soon have red, sore and swollen gums that bleed easily when brushed. This almost always leads to a condition known as Periodontitis (inflammation around the gums and bones of the teeth).
Periodontitis is a severe infection of the gums and the bone that holds teeth in place. If the infection worsens, a person’s gums begin to pull away from your teeth, forming what are known as pockets. These pockets get larger as gum disease is left untreated.
This is why diabetics should adopt a consistent schedule of visiting their dentist immediately upon being diagnosed with diabetes. Your dentist will work with you to maintain optimal oral health and prevent you from experiencing painful, chronic gum and teeth issues! In this situation, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure!
The management of periodontal disease for a diabetic or a non-diabetic is very similar. One very important difference is that for a diabetic, the disease can be more destructive so it has to be treated more frequently and aggressively! Once the patient is dealing with a solid symptom such as bleeding gums, there is an indication of disease, and this needs to be addressed immediately before other treatment can commence.
Once treatment of the initial infection is successfully completed, the patient can come back and have regular cleanings. Regular cleanings are vital to the control of many gum/teeth issues. The small oversight of prolonging the time between cleanings could lead to more serious long-term consequences.
Sometimes a dentist will recommend that a patient have scaling and root planning performed as an alternative. This is done once a complete periodontal evaluation has been conducted. If any bone loss is detected, the treatment options/course may be adjusted, but if left untreated, the combination of gum decay and bone loss will lead to inevitable tooth loss.
In summary, if you or your loved ones are diabetic, then the importance of prompt, consistent dental care cannot be stressed enough! Make it a “must-do” on your health care list!
The first step to great dental care is finding the right dentist. Dr. Halina Montano is an outstanding dentist who can assess your dental needs and set up a plan not only to maintain your teeth and gums, but also help you achieve the optimal level of oral health possible! Please call Dr. Montano today at 561-232-2070 to schedule your initial appointment. Take the first step to keeping your teeth and gums healthy! You’ll be glad you did!