If you have diabetes, you probably already know how it can affect your overall health. But did you know that diabetes can also have an impact on your oral health?
Diabetics have to pay special attention to their mouths. This condition can have a significant impact on oral health, leading to other issues over time. That’s why it’s important that you understand how diabetes affects your mouth and what you can do to keep it healthy.
How diabetes impacts your oral health
If you have diabetes, this can reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth, which can lead to a dry mouth and an increased risk of tooth decay. The lack of saliva also means that bacteria from food particles and plaque will stay on your teeth longer than usual, increasing the chances of bad breath or gum disease.
Many people with diabetes use medication to help control their blood sugar levels and keep them healthy. Some medications may cause even further dry mouth as a side effect, so if you’re taking any medications that could be contributing to this problem, talk with your dentist about how they might affect your oral health.
Diabetes can increase your risk of gum disease and cavities
The bacteria that cause gingivitis are more likely to grow in diabetics than in non-diabetics, increasing the risk of gum disease and other oral health issues:
- Diabetes can affect your immune system, which may make you more vulnerable to infections like gum disease.
- It can cause dry mouth (also known as xerostomia), which makes it harder for you to clean your teeth properly. This can lead to cavities that are more difficult to treat than those in other people.
- Diabetes can lead to higher acidity in the mouth. High blood sugar levels mean that your body has high levels of glucose and other acids circulating throughout the bloodstream, which can lead to higher levels of acidity and make it easier for cavities or other dental issues to develop.
If you have diabetes, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly. You can also use a water pick or an electric toothbrush with a built-in timer to help ensure that you spend the recommended 2 minutes brushing.
Diabetes can increase your chances of developing thrush
Thrush is a fungal infection that affects your mouth and throat. It can cause white patches on the tongue, mouth, and inside of the cheeks. This infection is caused by Candida albicans, which normally lives in small amounts on your skin and mucous membranes without causing any problems.
Diabetes can cause an immune system response that makes it harder to fight off infections. If your immune system is weakened because of diabetes or other health conditions, the fungus can multiply and cause problems such as thrush. Diabetes also changes the way in which sugars are broken down in your body. This results in higher levels of glucose in your bloodstream, higher water loss from urine, lower fluid intake, and less saliva production — all factors that contribute to making you more prone to infections.
How can you care for your mouth if you have diabetes?
1. Keep up with your regular dental checkups
If you have diabetes, it’s important to see a dentist regularly. You should see your dentist at least every 6 months for a checkup (or more frequently if your dentist recommends it). Don’t forget to inform your dentist about your diabetes and any medications you are taking.
With proper care, you and your dentist can work together to keep your smile healthy and bright! If you are in Sunny Isles Beach, our team of experienced dentists at Sedation Dentistry of Sunny Isles can help you maintain your mouth in good shape. Call: (786) 629-1503.
2. Keep an eye on these signs of gum disease
If you have diabetes, it’s important that you know and check for any signs of gum disease:
- Bleeding or redness around the gums
- Gums that don’t look healthy or are tender to touch
- Teeth falling out or loosening
- Mouth pain when eating hot foods, cold foods, sweets, and chewing gum.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, see your dentist as soon as possible.
3. Develop good dental hygiene habits
Whether you have diabetes or not, taking good care of your mouth is essential to preventing oral issues like cavities and gum disease. The good news is that caring for your mouth is simple — it’s all about developing certain habits, such as:
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day. Brushing your teeth is an easy way to keep them clean and healthy. Do this for at least 2 minutes twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed. If you use an electric toothbrush, make sure you use it for at least 2 minutes.
- Floss daily. Flossing is another way to prevent cavities and gum disease by removing bacteria between your teeth along with food particles that may not be reached by brushing alone.
- If possible, use mouthwash after meals. This can help prevent cavities from forming from leftover food particles in your mouth. Your dentist can give you some recommendations on which type of mouthwash is best for you!
We are here to help!
If you have diabetes, we know that taking the best care of your health can be challenging and overwhelming. But at Sedation Dentistry of Sunny Isles, we are here to help you keep your mouth healthy and improve your overall well-being in a compassionate way.