Diabetes is a common condition for people all across the country. In fact, it’s estimated that 9.3% of Americans suffer from diabetes. With 29.1 million people already dealing with the disease, the rate of new cases is continuing to grow with over one million new diagnoses every year. With so many people diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to look at how the disease affects our overall health, not just in terms of direct symptoms, but also how the rest of the body is impacted.
Our dental health has a distinct connection with diabetes. If you suffer from the disease, keep reading to learn about how it can impact your teeth and gums.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that impacts the amount of insulin your body produces. In most people, the food they eat is converted into glucose (sugar) and enters the bloodstream. This spike in blood sugar causes the body to produce insulin, which converts glucose into energy. For people with diabetes, insulin production is impacted, meaning that your body has difficulty turning glucose into energy.
There are different types of diabetes, which can have different causes and impact the body in different ways. The most common types of diabetes are type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5 to 10% of cases and is an autoimmune condition that damages the beta cells in the pancreas responsible for releasing insulin into the body and preventing the conversion of blood glucose into energy. Type 1 diabetes is most common in children and adolescents, though it can occur at any age.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type, accounting for 90 to 95% of cases. This condition causes the body to not produce enough insulin, or reject it altogether. It can occur at any age, though it’s most common in adults, and especially seniors. Type 2 diabetes usually occurs over a long period of time and is most often the result of lifestyle habits such as diet, lack of exercise, and excess body weight.
What are the effects of diabetes?
Diabetes has a serious effect on the body and your overall health. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can be either acute or chronic. Some common symptoms include:
- Chronic thirst
- Chronic hunger
- Frequent urination
- Blurred or impacted vision
- Slow-healing wounds
It’s important to note that, while these symptoms are common for people with diabetes, some people won’t experience any notable symptoms. That’s why it’s important to have your blood sugar levels checked and monitored by a medical professional, especially as you age.
Diabetes can lead to a host of serious, life-threatening medical problems including heart disease, loss of vision, stroke, kidney failure, and more.
How is diabetes related to dental health?
Diabetes isn’t an isolated disease; it impacts your overall health and can contribute to a number of health problems throughout your entire body. Your dental health can be seriously impacted by diabetes, meaning that if you have the condition, it’s even more important that you care for your teeth and gums.
Because diabetes impacts your ability to fight off infection, people with the condition are at significant risk of developing oral health problems including decay, cavities, chronic dry mouth, thrush, gum disease, and tooth loss.
Gum disease is a particularly common problem for people with diabetes. In fact, roughly 22% of people with diabetes suffer from gum disease. High blood sugar causes your gums to be far more susceptible to damage and disease, and, in turn, gum disease is also known to increase blood sugar. This means that if you have diabetes, keeping your gums healthy is even more important, and more difficult.
How can I tell if I have gum disease?
There are two main types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis describes early-stage gum disease. If you notice that you’re experiencing bleeding gums, persistent bad breath, or toothaches, it could be gingivitis. Periodontitis is defined as late-stage gum disease. At this stage, the tissue of your gums and jaw will be damaged, leading to a number of serious problems including tooth loss, changes in speech, and bone damage.
Even if you don’t notice any obvious symptoms of gum disease, it’s important to regularly visit your dentist’s office to examine your gums and screen for this condition, especially for people at an increased risk – like those with diabetes.
With good oral hygiene habits and a trusted dental healthcare provider, the effects of diabetes on your dental well-being can be mitigated so you can continue to have a healthy smile. There are a number of steps you can take to prevent gum disease, including:
- Maintaining good dental hygiene habits like brushing, flossing, and using a gentle mouthwash.
- Going to your dentist’s office regularly (at least twice a year) to get exams, cleanings, and important health screenings.
- Eating a healthy diet (this will not only help to prevent gum disease, but will also help keep your diabetes in check).
How to treat gum disease
While prevention is the easiest way to avoid the negative effects of gum disease, it’s not always that simple, especially for people with diabetes who are at a naturally greater risk. Fortunately, there are a number of effective treatment options, even for severe cases.
At Sedation Dentistry of Sunny Isles, we offer high-tech treatment options that offer you great results quickly and with as little discomfort as possible. Our LANAP Laser Treatment for gum disease uses ultrasonic technology to remove bacteria, heal damaged gums, and promote natural bone growth. This treatment is minimally invasive and can be completed in just 90 minutes, and you should be fully healed the very next day!
Get effective comprehensive dental care at Sedation Dentistry of Sunny Isles.
Quality dental healthcare is essential, not just to your oral health, but to your overall well-being. For people with diabetes, the link between their teeth and gums and their general health is even more apparent. Our experienced, award-winning team at Sedation Dentistry of Sunny Isles is dedicated to offering the best in dental care for all our patients.