Is There A Link Between Diabetes & Dental Health?

This fall marks the second year that November was declared the National Diabetes Month via Presidential Proclamation in 2016. With approximately 1.7 million new cases of diabetes diagnosed per year, there is an increasing need for awareness about diabetes throughout the United States.

Some of the typical symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Frequent bruising that is slow to heal
  • Extreme thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Severe fatigue

However, less well known diabetes symptoms involve dental health and diabetes tooth loss.  A recent study led by researchers at University of Pennsylvania concluded that there is a definite correlation between diabetes and a change in the amount of normal bacteria that lives in the mouth, which leads to inflammation and bone loss.

How Does Diabetes Affect Your Teeth?

If you or a loved one has diabetes, you are probably familiar with the precautions that one must take to manage the disease. However, oral health issues associated with diabetes can often be overlooked.

There are some clear warning signs that either you have undiagnosed diabetes and/or your dental health is suffering if you’ve already been diagnosed:

  • Dry mouth
  • Issues with tasting food
  • Inflamed and/or bleeding gums
  • Frequent infections in the mouth
  • Mouth wounds healing too slowly
  • Diabetic decay in the teeth
  • Diabetes tooth loss due to weakened bone structure

As you know, poor blood sugar affects many parts and processes throughout the body. The kidneys and the heart are particularly susceptible. And because a diabetes patient has a harder time fighting bacterial infections, they are also at a higher risk of dental issues involving the gums.

Diabetes Tooth Loss and Gum Disease Prevention

Diabetes Tooth LossGingivitis and periodontitis are two of the most common dental problems that a diabetic should focus on preventing. Prevention involves some things that you probably already know to do, and a few that could be new.

As you know, the most important thing as a diabetic is to keep your blood glucose at a level that is healthy for you. Dangerous blood sugar fluctuation actually changes the environment in one’s mouth, so keeping your levels even actually lowers the risk of developing periodontitis.

Some easy steps to take at home for your dental care would be to make sure you are brushing and flossing twice a day. Include your gums and tongue in your brushing routine as well. Reducing the bad bacteria in your mouth always sets you up for better oral health overall.

If you have dentures, definitely take the time to remove them and clean them daily as well. Leaving them in too long can foster bad bacteria growth.

You can also be sure to incorporate plenty of water, along with more fruits and vegetables, into your daily diet. Staying hydrated helps combat dry mouth. And the fiber and nutrients in produce will benefit not only your mouth but also your whole body.

For anyone concerned about their oral health, but especially for someone with diabetes, it is highly recommended that all tobacco products be avoided. Even second-hand smoke can affect a diabetic’s health and should be avoided.

Finally, you should visit your dentist for regular cleanings and check-ups every 6 months. This gives your dentist the chance to keep tabs on what is happening with your teeth and provides for early-detection of any issues that could be developing.

How Can A Dentist Help With Diabetes Tooth Loss?

Diabetes tooth loss can be challenging, especially if one is trying to deal with it on their own. But thankfully, you don’t have to face any of your diabetic issues alone.

A good dental team will not only know the signs of undiagnosed diabetes but also how to support and treat their diabetic patients with excellent care and compassion. Adding a dentist with knowledge of the oral weaknesses of diabetes to your larger diabetic care team will ensure that all your bases are covered. Shared information from one specialized physician will undoubtedly enhance your level of care from the rest, giving you the best chance at living a full life despite the diabetes.

If you or a loved one need affordable dental care that corresponds with other diabetic physicians, give Penn Dental Medicine Clinic a call at 215-898-8965 to set up an appointment today!

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