Diabetes And Dental Health
Ask anyone what they think of when they hear the term ‘diabetes’, and many of the answers will come back similar. ‘Sugary foods’, ‘problems regulating insulin’ and ‘poor diet’ will likely be right up there, at least in terms of type 2 diabetes.
But did you know that diabetes is actually linked with dental health? Studies have shown that people who have trouble controlling their blood glucose levels are more likely to experience dental health problems. Problems with teeth and gums are common in those who suffer from diabetes, so it’s absolutely vital to maintain good dental health – whether you suffer from type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes or even pre-diabetes.
Diabetes and periodontal disease
One of the key dental problems that people with diabetes face is the issue of periodontal disease or – gum disease, as it’s known to many. Gum disease is an infection of the gums, as well as the ligaments and bone that keep your teeth in place along the jaw. Bacterial plaque, which forms when you don’t brush your teeth, can irritate the gums, causing serious infections over time. This can lead to tooth loss if it’s not addressed quickly.
The link between diabetes and periodontal disease goes two ways. Those with diabetes are at higher risk of suffering from periodontal disease – and unfortunately, having periodontal disease can make diabetes worse. Studies have shown that having gum disease can make it harder for you to control your blood sugars, and that periodontal treatment has been shown to improve blood sugar levels.
If you have diabetes and are worried about periodontal disease, look out for the following warning signs:
- Red and swollen gums that bleed when brushing.
- Gums which have receded or pulled away from the teeth.
- Very bad breath, or a consistently foul odour coming from the mouth.
- Plaque deposits between the teeth – usually yellow or milky white.
- Pus between the teeth.
If you experience any of these symptoms, see your dentist and your GP – it’s important to note the link between gum disease and diabetes and treat them both in tandem.
Maintaining good dental hygiene
Obviously, maintaining good dental hygiene is an important way to protect your mouth from gum disease and protect your body from the effects of diabetes. Here are some top dental tips to help:
- Brush your teeth twice every day. The most important brush of the day is the one before you to go sleep, so make sure you’re extra thorough.
- Cut out sugary snacks and drinks from your diet, or reduce them if you can. Not only will this help your dental health, it’ll also bring down your risk of developing diabetes if you don’t currently have it.
- Use floss or an interdental brush at least once per day to remove the stubborn plaque build-up that forms in between the teeth.
- Take only water to bed at night. Drinking fruit juices or cordials can leave build-up on the teeth.
- Visit your dentist regularly – at least once per year, perhaps more if you have underlying problems or issues you’d like to have monitored and checked.