November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, a time of the year where organizations and communities come together to call attention to diabetes in the United States and its impact on millions of lives.
If you or a loved one has diabetes, you probably know that it can affect your heart, kidneys, eyes, nerves, and other important systems in the body. What you may not know is that diabetes can also affect your oral health, and that people with diabetes actually have a higher risk of periodontal diseases.
Know the Risks
Diabetic Control: Gum disease is linked to diabetic control. Poor blood sugar control can lead to an increased chance of developing gum disease and even tooth loss.
Blood Vessel Changes: A thickening of blood vessels can be aside-effect of diabetes, which can affect the flow of nutrients and immune cells to the gum tissue allowing bacteria to thrive.
Bacteria: Poorly controlled diabetes can cause increased levels of glucose in mouth fluids, which provides food for bacteria.
Smoking: Smokers are five times more likely than non-smokers to develop gum disease. Add in diabetes, and the likelihood of gum disease quadruples to 20 times when compared to a healthy non-smoker.
Preventative Measures You Can Take and Advice for Patients with Diabetes
- Know how well your diabetes is controlled, and keep your dentist up-to-date at every visit
- See your dentist as soon as any problems or discomfort develop in your mouth
- See your doctor before scheduling treatment for periodontal disease, and have your doctor speak with your dentist before undergoing any periodontal-related treatment
- Make sure that you are seeing your dentist every six months for regular checkups to keep your oral health under control
- Brush twice each day (in the morning and at night) for two minutes each time and floss daily