Most people know that diabetes is not something to fool around with. It plays a major role in many aspects of your life, including your oral health. Oral health is extra important for those who have Type I or Type II diabetes as you have an increased risk of gum disease. For those who do not know what gum disease is; it is inflammation of the gums that is caused by bacteria. The bacteria in plaque infect the teeth and gums, which leads to gingivitis. If this gingivitis is left untreated it can lead to gum infections and tooth loss, and eventually a more advanced form of gum disease known as Periodontitis.
Complications of diabetes with gum disease is linked to diabetic control. If you have poor blood sugar control then you have a greater chance of having severe gum disease. High blood sugar levels weaken the immune system allowing bacteria to flourish and set the stage for gum disease. It can also work in the opposite way; if you have poor control over the bacteria in your mouth and inflammation is present it can cause your blood sugar to be less controlled. If you can manage your blood sugars and maintain a healthy oral cavity then you have no greater risk than a person without diabetes.
Children who are insulin dependent also have an increased risk for gum problems. I usually recommend three month cleaning appointments for them to help maintain a healthier oral cavity. If their blood sugar is well controlled and they are able to keep a healthy oral cavity then they have no greater risk than non-diabetics and they usually have fewer cavities due to limited sugar intake.
If you have Diabetes:
1) Make sure you monitor and know how well your blood sugar is controlled.
2) Inform your dental provider if you have, or have recently been diagnosed.
3) Eat before your dental visits and make sure you blood sugar levels are stable.
4) Brush twice daily, floss daily, and use mouthrinse *Discuss what products are best for you to use with your dental provider.
5) Keep up with your dental cleanings every 3 to 6 months.
6) Make sure to follow through with any dental work that is recommended to decrease risk of infection.
Additional Health Recommendations:
1) Make sure to stay active especially during the winter months.
2) Keep skin hydrated as your skin especially during the winter months is more prone to significant skin problems, such as bacteria and fungal infections.
3) Start your day with a well-balanced breakfast that has a good combination of proteins, fats and carbs.
4) Get enough sleep! Blood sugar is regulated with insulin but hormones can play a role as well. Sleep allows hormones to maintain their proper daily rhythms. When you are tired it leads to unhealthy blood sugar spikes as well as snacking which can lead to weight gain, affecting diabetes control.
5) Watch alcohol consumption as alcohol blocks the production of glucose in the liver which can cause blood sugars to crash.
Diabetics need to take their oral health and overall health seriously. Excellent daily habits will help stabilize your blood sugar, and other conditions that are correlated with diabetes. Remember, small changes in your daily routine can make a lifelong difference.