One unsuspected complication of diabetes that has recently come to light is the increased prevalence of gum disease among diabetics. Not only does this mean that diabetic patients have a greater risk of developing “gingivitis” (an early stage of gum disease), but they are also more likely to develop the more serious form known as “periodontitis.” This heightened risk of developing gum infection can be traced to diabetics’ compromised ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums. In addition, research suggests that serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood-glucosethe main sugar found in the blood and the body's main source of energy. Also called blood sugar. control and contribute to the progression of diabetes. With this in mind, those with diabetes have every reason to have teeth and gums examined regularly.
Healthy Gums Help Control Diabetes
If you allow your gum disease to progress unchecked, you have a higher chance of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Years of international research, consistent results, and consensus confirm that the relationship between gum disease and diabetes is more complex than previously understood.
It is no longer accepted that gum disease is just a predictable natural outcome of diabetes...
- Diabetics are more susceptible to infections and gum disease is a bacterial infection.
- Gum disease can negatively affect blood sugar levels in both diabetics and the general population. (This is where your potential for developing prediabetes and type-2 diabetes comes in.)
- Efficient and effective oral hygiene maintains tooth and gum health and positively affects your blood sugar levels.
Oral Hygiene 101
Tooth Brushing – always your first defense against the buildup of bacteria (plaque) that hardens into calculus. Brushing your teeth for at least two minutes twice per day is more important now than ever. You need to keep your teeth healthy and clean to prevent the acids from bacteria from eating away at your tooth enamel and causing tooth decay. Be gentle and use a soft-bristles brush to protect your gums from irritation and your teeth from abrasion.
Flossing – this is how you clean your teeth where your brush can’t reach – the spaces between your teeth. Whether you use floss or another interdental cleaner that meets your individual preferences or mobility needs, make sure you do this at least once per day.
Here are some home hygiene tips:
- Wash your hands before flossing and brushing.
- Do not share toothbrushes. Oral bacteria can be passed to other family members & can potentially spread periodontal and viral diseases.
- If you run out of toothpaste, brush with water to remove plaque. Rinse with mouthwash for a fresh clean mouth.
- Store your toothbrush in a container that has air holes.
- Keep oral hygiene tools dry and clean.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months, when the bristles begin to fray, and after every illness.
- When purchasing a toothbrush, make sure you select a soft-bristled brush.
Gum disease is called the 6th complication of diabetes, so if you or someone you love is diabetic, regular oral hygiene visits must be at the top of the to-do list. In fact, regular cleanings are essential for everyone in your family, so if it’s been a while, please give us a call.
Interested in learning more? Batavia Family Dental is just a phone call away. Contact us today and we’ll book you in for a consultation to help determine your risks and to help tailor an approach that meets your individual needs. Preserving and protecting your teeth and overall oral health is always our top priority.
Yours in dental health,
Dr. Steve Sokolovskiy, dentist in Batavia
P.S. Diabetics’ ability to preserve their teeth and gums’ health amounts to a two-pronged approach that includes keeping their blood sugar under control and brushing and flossing at home.