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07 Jun 2017

Diabetics Beware! Even Your Teeth and Gums Are Affected

With 29 million Americans affected by Diabetes, the latter can play havoc with your body. Contrary to popular opinion, it isn’t just your eyes or wound healing that are vulnerable if you have diabetes. About one-third of those with diabetes also suffer from periodontal disease.

Let me explain more about the process of Diabetes and your mouth. Diabetes causes the gum tissue and bone around the teeth to break down. There is a reason why diabetics are prone to periodontal disease. Dental research shows that diabetics are more susceptible to bacterial infection. Also, because diabetics have high blood sugar, this coats the immune-fighting cells and affects the blood supply to the patient’s mouth and other parts of the body. Also, thickening of the blood vessels in diabetes also contributes to periodontal disease.

Because Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, the gums are at risk for gingivitis, which is an inflammation caused by the presence of bacteria in plaque. Diabetics also can suffer from a wide variety of oral health issues, including burning mouth syndrome and fungal infections, such as thrush and oral candidiasis. Dry mouth (also called xerostomia) can develop, causing increased oral decay.

It may begin with red, sore and swollen gums and then progress to bleeding gums, gums pulling away from your teeth, loose or sensitive teeth, bad breath (halitosis), a bite that feels different, and dentures that do not fit well. In children with Diabetes, teeth may erupt earlier than usual. Also, chronic periodontal disease can lead to heart damage, especially valve damage.

It is vital that you treat periodontal disease caused by diabetes in the early stages to prevent it from becoming serious later on. If you are a smoker with diabetes your risk for periodontal disease is even greater.

There are three stages of gum disease, depending on its severity:

  1. Gingivitis: This is the mildest form of gum disease and is characterized by swollen, red, or tender gums. Your gums may bleed during brushing or flossing. Gingivitis can be treated by a dentist by following a home dental healthcare program.
  2. Mild Periodontitis: This results due to untreated gingivitis. At this stage, the bone around the tooth will erode. In order to prevent further progression prompt dental treatment is required.
  3. Severe Periodontitis: This is the most severe stage of gum disease and is characterized by significant tissue and bone loss around the teeth.

Treatment of Periodontal Disease in Diabetics

While a dental visit once every six months should be the norm, this is even more important if you suffer from diabetes. The regular and professional treatment of periodontal disease in diabetics can slow its progression.

If you are diabetic, you should visit your dentist regularly and undergo professional deep cleanings done by your dentist. You should also maintain good oral hygiene, by brushing at least twice a day and using a toothpaste for sensitive teeth, if necessary.

You can do the following oral health-related things for optimal wellness:

  1. Control your blood sugar levels
  2. Avoid smoking
  3. Make sure you brush twice a day with a soft brush and floss daily
  4. See your dentist for regular check-ups
  5. If you wear any type of denture, clean it at least once a day

So, now you know the dental risks involved if you are a Diabetic or know someone who is. Ensure that you take care of your blood sugar levels as well as your teeth in the long-term. The first step is to visit your dentist for a consultation regarding your options if you have Diabetes.

At the Tacoma Dental Group, we specialize in preventive dental care for our patients. We treat each patient holistically and prescribe the treatment that is right for you. Here’s to healthy teeth even if you have diabetes!

For more information on how you can schedule an appointment for a thorough dental check-up,
contact Dr. Ron Lo at 253-383-1551 or at tacomadentalgroup@gmail.com.