Since high blood sugar can affect the health of your teeth and gums, diabetics need to take extra care of their mouth. Fortunately, a good family dentist can provide guidelines for diabetics, allowing them to enjoy a healthy smile.
Dr. Rohinton Patel and his team at Hawaii Pacific Dental Group, serving Honolulu, HI, can help diabetics achieve and maintain optimal oral health. Here, we review the importance of preventative measures and dental care for diabetics.
Dental Concerns for Diabetics
Managing your blood sugar level is key to good overall and oral health. The higher your blood sugar, the greater your risk for the following dental issues:
- Gum disease: Diabetes inhibits your ability to fight oral bacteria. When bacteria harden at or below the gum line, tartar develops. The longer tartar remains on the teeth, the more the substance irritates the gums, causing gingivitis. Left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis. This disease destroys the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth, eventually causing loose or lost teeth.
- Tooth decay: The higher your blood sugar level, the more sugars and starches interact with oral bacteria, causing plaque to form on your teeth. Plaque attacks enamel and dentin, leading to cavities.
- Thrush: Diabetics are at greater risk of developing thrush, a type of oral fungal infection that causes painful white or red patches along your oral soft tissues.
Minimizing Your Risk of Oral Health Issues
Below are five basic steps diabetics can take to prevent oral health issues:
- Manage your diabetes: Monitoring your blood sugar levels, and following your doctor's instructions to maintain levels in the desired range will go far in avoiding dental decay and gum disease.
- Practice good daily oral hygiene: Diabetics should brush their teeth twice a day, in the morning and before bed, minimally. Ideally, you will also brush your teeth after meals and snacks to remove plaque-causing sugars and bacteria from the teeth. Diabetics should floss their teeth at least once a day to remove plaque between the teeth and below the gum line.
- Keep up with dental visits: You should see your dentist at least twice a year for professional cleanings, X-rays and checkups. Only a professional cleaning can remove plaque and tartar buildup. At your check up, your dentist will also be on the lookout for cavities, gum disease, and other potential oral health problems. As with any health condition, early intervention allows for the best possible outcomes.
- Tell your dentist you have diabetes: Be sure your dentist knows you have diabetes and has your doctor’s contact information.
- Quit smoking: Both smoking and diabetes increases your risk for gum disease; together they put you in the high-risk category for this condition. Smoking and diabetes also have negative effects on your overall health, making it imperative that you quit as soon as possible. If you are having difficulty quitting, talk to your dentist or doctor about smoking cessation options.
Learn More Today
By following these steps consistently, you can manage your diabetes and ward off oral health complications. Learn more about dental care and diabetes by giving us a call at (808) 955-0008 or filling out our online form.