Taking care of your teeth and mouth is especially important if you have diabetes, because the condition results in a greater risk of oral infection and often slows the healing process. Seeing a dentist is a slightly different experience for diabetics, and it's important to learn as much as you can about handling your diabetes and dental treatment so you can work with your dentist to avoid complications and maintain your oral health.
Diabetes and Oral Health Issues
Gum disease and diabetes have an interesting connection. According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC), diabetes raises your risk of gum disease. Having gum disease then raises your risk of diabetes complications since gum disease makes it more difficult for a diabetic to keep his or her blood sugar levels under control.
The higher your blood sugar levels, the more likely you are to have plaque buildup on your teeth, as explained by the NDIC. When your blood sugar levels are high, the amount of sugar in your saliva is also high, which creates an ideal environment for plaque to grow. Excess plaque not only increases your risk of infection and gum disease; it also raises your risk of cavities and decay. Being proactive about treating your condition and caring for your mouth can help you avoid additional dental work beyond regular cleanings in the future.
Tooth- and gum-related problems aren't the only oral health issues that you might face if you don't treat your diabetes or see a dentist regularly. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetics are more likely to suffer from dry mouth or to develop a fungal infection in their mouths. Dry mouth can occur when your diabetes is uncontrolled or as a side effect of the medication you're taking to control the condition. Having dry mouth increases your chances of developing an infection or cavities.
Gum disease prevention efforts are essential when you have diabetes. It's important to note that medications to reverse gum disease often increase your chances of developing thrush, a type of yeast infection in the mouth. If your blood sugar levels are high, you are even more likely to develop thrush, as the yeast thrives when there are high levels of sugar in the saliva and mouth, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Caring for Your Teeth
Along with getting your diabetes under control, caring for your teeth at home is an important part of your dental treatment. Brush your teeth at least twice a day for about two or three minutes each time. Use a toothbrush with a built-in tongue cleaner, such as the Colgate® 360°® brush. A lot of the bacteria found in your mouth is actually on your tongue, so cleaning it along with your teeth is a must. Remember to also floss daily, using an 18-inch piece of floss and wrapping it in a C-shape around each tooth to remove plaque biofilm from your teeth is so important.
Talking to Your Dentist
Handling your diabetes and dental treatment means being open with your dentist about your condition. You might want to ask your doctor and your dentist to communicate so they can keep each other up-to-date about your diabetes. Do your best to get your blood sugar levels under control, particularly before your dental appointment, especially if you are undergoing surgery or another treatment that is expected to cause bleeding. If your glucose levels remain high, talk to your dentist about rescheduling your appointment.
Communication is a big part of a successful dental plan for individuals with diabetes. When you go in for a dental exam, be sure to ask your dentist any questions you have about how diabetes will affect your mouth and your treatment. Working together will help you have the healthiest mouth possible.