Most people don’t know the impact oral health has on their entire bodies. As research improves and dental professionals continue to implement innovations, we find that oral health is intrinsically tied to several health conditions.
Patients with diabetes know firsthand the effect a single condition can have on other aspects of their health; after all, the connection between diabetes and oral health is profound. Regardless, fostering your oral health is a sure way to benefit your all-around health and well-being. The old saying goes: “A chain is only as strong as the weakest link.”
If you’ve been putting off that dentist appointment, this could be your sign to schedule that visit! You’re not only putting your teeth at risk but increasing your likelihood of various illnesses, even those not typically associated with oral health. South Charlotte Dentistry is equipped to help new and returning patients in the Charlotte area get on track to peak dental health and, in turn, whole health!
Nothing can motivate you to schedule that long put-off dental appointment like learning the impact of oral health on your overall well-being. Let’s discuss the connection between oral health and diabetes in more detail.
How Diabetes and Oral Health are Connected
The term diabetes refers to a group of diseases that result in too much sugar in the bloodstream. While different forms of diabetes have distinct characteristics, this association with sugar is what we’ll focus on when discussing the connection between diabetes and oral health.
So, what does sugar in your blood have to do with your oral health?
High sugar levels in the blood, like those associated with diabetes, can impact your saliva, resulting in higher levels of sugar in your saliva. Saliva has constant contact with your teeth, so even a slight shift in sugar levels can spell significant trouble for your oral health. Because sugar becomes a key food source for the bacteria associated with plaque, you have an increased likelihood of cavities.
Healthy saliva plays a crucial role in preventing cavities because it clears food particles from your mouth and teeth. That’s why saliva with the potential to cause cavities is especially troubling!
The increased risk of cavities isn’t the only thing those living with diabetes should be concerned about — here are a few other oral health conditions that are impacted by diabetes:
Gingivitis is a gum disease accompanied by bleeding or inflamed gums. While it’s among the most common oral diseases in the general population, it’s more likely to occur in diabetic individuals. That’s because of the higher sugar levels in saliva alongside dry mouth, which is an ordinary side effect of most diabetes-treating medicines.
Periodontitis is an advanced form of gingivitis, meaning it’s more of a severe gum disease. In other words, people with periodontitis have more to worry about than just bleeding or inflamed gums. It can result in tooth loss, chewing problems, damage to the jaw and bone, and more.
Gum disease is one of the most commonly associated oral conditions with diabetes. According to a recent survey by BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, one in five people with severe gum disease may have had type 2 diabetes and were not aware.
Periodontitis is just like gingivitis regarding its reasons for an increased likelihood in those with diabetes. The good news is that gum disease is curable or reversible if caught early enough. If you’ve noticed any gingivitis or periodontitis symptoms, be sure to consult a dentist about a treatment plan before the disease progresses. South Charlotte Dentistry offers a host of treatment options for those exhibiting signs of the disease and has an excellent track record of helping patients lead healthier lives.
Oral thrush is a fungal infection of tissues in the mouth. It’s very common in babies because of their weakened immune system and results in white, painful patches in the mouth and on the tongue.
The fungus that causes thrush is commonly found in the mouth but often does not cause infection. Thrush happens when the fungus multiplies because of specific conditions, one of which is dry mouth — the same condition associated with diabetes and the increased likelihood of gum disease.
Slow Wound Healing
Diabetes typically results in weakened immunity, translating to a higher risk for infection and also slowing down your body’s ability to heal its wounds. Small wounds are common in the mouth and can occur from a number of things, but any wounds that stay open are at risk for infection. This, coupled with the fact that some people’s immune systems are weaker, is one reason thrush and gingivitis are so common.
These are just a few of the oral conditions people with diabetes are more likely to experience, and we know that can be daunting. Living with diabetes comes with its own daily challenges and battles, and realizing that your oral care is also impacted can be disheartening.
But don’t give up hope! There are steps you can take to reduce your likelihood of these conditions and improve every aspect of your oral health.
Building Good Dental Care Habits
Improving your dental care routine is an excellent way to prevent the conditions we discussed above, but knowing where to start can be challenging. Here are a few of South Charlotte Dentistry’s recommendations for dental patients with diabetes:
Improve and Maintain Your Brushing
Nearly everyone brushes, though it’s rare to find someone who brushes effectively! The increase in dry mouth and higher levels of sugar in the saliva mean that your brushing has to do its job in eliminating plaque build-ups before they worsen. Make sure you’re brushing twice a day with an effective brush and spending 30 seconds per surface for the most impact.
Plaque doesn’t just build up on the surface of your teeth; it builds up along your gums and between your teeth too! Flossing is one of the only ways to eliminate plaque in the places your toothbrush cannot reach. If you can’t seem to keep up with your traditional flossing routine, consider investing in a water flosser!
Monitor the Condition of Your Gums
It’s essential to catch gingivitis early before it worsens and requires a more invasive treatment plan. You can tackle the problem while it’s manageable by checking on the conditions of your gums, being vigilant about bleeding or inflammation, and visiting your dentist.
Inflamed gums can also contribute to higher blood sugar, which can be extremely problematic for diabetic patients. Using your gums to indicate your overall dental health can help you avoid potentially dangerous oral conditions.
Utilize Medication That Lowers Your Blood Sugar
Though some medications create side effects that lead to dry mouth (one of the causes of some of the oral conditions associated with diabetes), it’s important to keep your blood sugar in check. If you neglect to manage your blood sugar properly, you put yourself at risk for an array of dental conditions, creating more issues than a dry mouth if left unaddressed.
Tell Your Dentist About Your Condition
South Charlotte Dentistry is a practice committed to addressing the unique needs of every patient. If you have diabetes, it’s vital to let your dentist know so they can help you monitor, address, and stay informed of all the related conditions you might experience. Even the best dentists need patient participation to develop an effective treatment plan, so remember to tell yours about any underlying conditions!
South Charlotte Dentistry: The Option for Patients Who Need Top-Notch Care
If this article has conveyed anything, hopefully it’s the significance of fostering your oral health as a way to address your diabetes. Though there’s no way you can fully protect your oral health by yourself; it’s vital to find a dental practice that can create a treatment plan and goals with you, while monitoring the impact of diabetes on your oral health.
No dentists are better equipped for the mission than South Charlotte Dentistry. Unique, patient-tailored care is woven into our very practice — a sentiment you can find among the many reviews we’ve received throughout our history. For instance:
“I’ve been receiving “dental care” at Dr. Wells’ office for years. The entire staff is gracious, understanding and attentive. Dr. Wells’ “chair side” manner is wonderful. He genuinely cares about his patients. Listens closely to all your concerns and answers every question. His work on my teeth has been nothing less than excellent. His referrals (if he feels you need it) are always the best. I would give a 10 stars if they had it. Dr. Wells is the best, hands down.”
Don’t tackle your oral health alone. Schedule an appointment with South Charlotte Dentistry today to get ahead of all the oral conditions associated with diabetes and begin a journey to optimal oral health — your entire well-being will benefit!