People with diabetes are susceptible to a number of complications due to high glucose levels. It is well known that diabetics face many health concerns such as heart issues, eyesight deterioration, and nerve damage. However, what many don’t know — even some suffering from the disease — is that oral health is another major complication of diabetes.
November is National Diabetes Awareness month, and in the spirit of awareness, here are four facts about dental health for those with diabetes.
1. Gum disease is a major complication for diabetics
If you, or a loved one, have been diagnosed with diabetes, you’re probably aware of the various dental complications that come along with high glucose levels. But, did you know nearly a quarter of diabetics develop periodontal disease? Periodontal disease is a severe gum infection that puts the teeth and the jawbone at risk.
It is proven that people with poor blood sugar control due to diabetes are more susceptible to gum disease and tooth loss. This is due to a number of factors:
- High glucose levels — When diabetes isn’t controlled, excess glucose builds up in the mouth and breeds bacteria.
- Thick blood vessels — Blood vessels are important for transporting nutrients and oxygen to tissue. Diabetics have thick blood vessels that restrict blood flow, which decreases gum resistance to infection.
- Smoking — Across the board, smoking is a leading cause of gum disease and tooth loss. However, diabetic smokers are 20x more likely to develop gum disease than non-diabetic smokers.
The best way to prevent gum disease is through preventative measures such as brushing, flossing and regular dentist checkups. However, even the most diligent among people with diabetes are still subject to gum disease. In the event of infection, see a dentist for professional plaque removal. If gum disease advances too far, surgery might be necessary.
2. Tooth loss is a common risk
"If you, or a loved one, have been diagnosed with diabetes, you’re probably aware of the various dental complications that come along with high glucose levels. But, did you know nearly a quarter of diabetics develop periodontal disease?"
Unfortunately, gum disease isn’t the only dental health issue that needs to be on diabetics’ radar. Studies show that 20 percent of total tooth loss is linked to diabetes. Like with gum disease, it is important to practice regular, preventative measures to stave off tooth loss.
In the event of tooth loss, dentures might be necessary. When it comes to partial or full dentures, the risk of bacteria is increased even more. Make sure to clean dentures regularly with a specialty soak and brush them like regular teeth when they are in.
3. Gum disease makes the other effects of diabetes worse
Gum disease should be a top concern for those with diabetes for many reasons. Not only is it especially prevalent among diabetics, but studies show it also contributes to the progression of diabetes — it’s a two-way street.
Gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control, which provokes the effects of diabetes. This makes the effects of gum disease an even more pressing issue because it has the potential to affect the whole body.
4. Checkups fend off gum disease
Regular visits to the dentist are important for everyone, but especially for those with diabetes. Due to the heightened risk of gum disease and tooth loss, it's important to make dentist visits a priority.
Dentists should be made aware of your diabetes so they can practice special treatment or prescribe certain preventative measures. During a visit, dentists are able to remove plaque that causes gum disease, X-ray to ensure jawbone health, and check for signs of infection. These are valuable services that can’t be performed without professional aid, so even the most diligent brushers and flossers still need to visit the dentist at least twice a year.
With diabetes, oral health will be a lifelong concern that requires regular professional care, but how can you afford it all? Dental Solutions dental discount card not only saves members between 20 percent and 50 percent on regular procedures like checkups and cleanings but also provides huge savings on specialty work like dentures, X-rays and tooth removal.
Contact Dental Solutions to start taking control of your oral health by making dental care more affordable.