Obesity is increasing in this country, and today more than a third of all Americans have the condition. Along with rising obesity rates, diabetes is increasing, affecting 12% of Americans, although 28% of them don’t know it. Every day new people are diagnosed with the condition and come to realize that they are now at risk for a number of very serious complications, including oral health risks.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important for you to understand that this disease puts you at increased risk of gum disease, cavities, and even tooth loss. Once you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to see your dentist to learn about your risks and how to protect yourself.
How Diabetes Increases Dental Risk
Diabetes is a metabolic illness that affects virtually every part of your body, including your mouth.
Diabetes can decrease saliva flow, which can make it easier for bacteria to thrive in your mouth. Saliva is your body’s first line of defense against bacteria because it is toxic and helps prevent your mouth from becoming too acidic. With less saliva, it’s easier for bacteria to grow, so their numbers will increase, creating more acid that is now being washed away at a slower rate, too. More acidity means both more risk of cavities and more damage to gums, and as bacteria grow, your risk of gum disease increases, too.
Diabetes also impairs the flow of blood in your body, which means that some tissues, like your gums, get fewer resources than they need. Without resources, they cannot fight off the growing bacterial infection. To make it even worse, diabetes also reduces the effectiveness of white blood cells, which help you fight infection, making it even easier for bacteria to gain a foothold in your mouth.
With less blood flow and resources, you will have a lower rate of healing, which means that bacteria are more likely to cause damage that outpaces healing, leading to progressive damage, receding gums, and puts teeth at risk.
You might also eat differently in an attempt to control your blood sugar. If you eat more smaller meals over the course of the day, you will have more time with food residue on your teeth, which can feed bacteria and increase risk.
But with proper care diabetics can maintain their teeth and gums for a lifetime of healthy smiles. Follow these tips to improve your oral health:
- Control your blood sugar. Diabetes doesn’t have as much of an impact if it’s under control.
- Make sure your dentist knows about your diabetes diagnosis and knows how to handle the impact.
- You may have to have more frequent checkups and cleanings. Although twice a year visits are normal and effective for most people, your dentist may recommend more as appropriate for you.
- Talk to your dentist about how often you should brush. Your dentist may recommend brushing after every time you eat. Other dentists may recommend that you keep to brushing on a normal schedule and simply rinse your mouth with water after eating. It depends on the state of your oral health and your particular risks.
The unfortunate thing is that as diabetes is increasing, the number of people going to the dentist is decreasing. Currently, nearly 40% of American adults go without a dental visit each year. This is a bad choice for a diabetic.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and are looking for a new dentist in Beverly Hills, please call (310) 275-5325 for an appointment today.