Did you know that certain health conditions can cause oral problems? Diabetes and oral health conditions are often related. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, patients with Type I or Type II diabetes are at heightened risk of developing tooth decay, fungal infections in the mouth and gum disease. Fortunately, diabetics can take a proactive approach to managing their oral health by following and controlling their glucose levels, practicing thorough oral hygiene and visiting their dentist regularly for examinations and cleanings.
How Diabetes Negatively Affects Oral Health
Since poorly controlled diabetes impairs the immune system, diabetics have difficulty fighting off bacterial and fungal infections. Gum disease and a fungal infection called "thrush," for example, both present varying levels of complications for people diagnosed with diabetes. Additionally, diabetics typically produce less saliva — the body's way of naturally rinsing the mouth — than those without diabetes. Diminished saliva production can lead to dry mouth and tooth decay.
Steps to Protect Your Family's Oral Health
While diabetes can affect oral health in different ways, parents can take steps to reduce family members' risk of developing conditions such as gum disease and tooth decay. One common method for reducing the chances of oral problems associated with diabetes is to control glucose levels with medication and a proper diet low in sugar. The American Dental Association has found that patients with poorly controlled glucose levels are more likely to develop gum disease than those whose glucose levels are controlled. To help members of your family control blood sugar, consider consulting with your family physician on healthy eating practices that benefit patients with diabetes.
In addition to keeping glucose levels under control, practicing good oral hygiene is something that the Colgate® 360°® toothbrush suggests will reduce the bacteria in the mouth that contribute to cavities and gum disease. Family members, especially those with diabetes, should brush their teeth thoroughly at least twice a day, preferably after meals and before bed. Consider trying the Colgate® 360°® toothbrush, specifically designed to remove bacteria and plaque along the gums. Beyond brushing teeth, the gum line and tongue should be brushed as well. Flossing should be done on a daily basis as well.
Another important factor in defending your family's oral health from complications associated with diabetes is regular visits to your dentist. All members of your family should receive a professional dental cleaning and examinations every six months. Discuss your and your family's overall health — including diagnoses of diabetes or a family history of diabetes — with your dentist, who can detect signs of potential problems and offer personalized treatment for your needs.