A routine visit to the dentist today brought be up to date with the link between diabetes and oral health. One of the few new things I learned was the fact that all dentists are not equally prepared to assist diabetics with their dental health, periodontal care, implant dentistry or restoration after years of inadequate care, if needed.
Emerging research suggests that the relationship between serious gum disease and diabetes is two-way. Not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to serious gum disease, but serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes.
Indeed, oral health ties into a person’s overall health. And like all infections, serious gum disease may be a factor in causing blood sugar to rise and may make diabetes harder to control. And when diabetes isn’t properly controlled, high glucose levels in saliva can create an environment favorable to these bacteria. In short, diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection - putting the gums at risk.
In addition, people who have inadequate blood sugar control may develop more frequent and severe infections of the gums and the bone that holds teeth in place, and they may lose more teeth than do people who have good blood sugar control, experts warn.
It’s therefore very important for people who have diabetes symptoms to work closely with their dental treatment team to keep their teeth and gums in great shape. Unfortunately, however, not all dentists understand the connections between treatment of diabetes and gum disease, let alone knowing how to lower blood sugar.
To prevent dental problems associated with diabetes, first and foremost, control your blood glucose level. Then, take good care of your teeth and gums, along with regular checkups every six months. To control thrush, a fungal infection, maintain good diabetic control, avoid smoking and, if you wear them, remove and clean dentures daily. Good blood glucose control can also help prevent or relieve dry mouth caused by diabetes.
Bottom line: Managing diabetes includes everything from nutrition to exercise to medication to dental health.