Diabetes and Oral Health

If you are a regular reader of our articles you may already have gained some understanding of how what happens in your mouth (oral health) can be an indication of health issues elsewhere in the body. Recent research has further led the medical profession to believe that poor oral health can also impact how your body deals with some pre-existing medical conditions and one of these is diabetes.

A brief overview of diabetes

Diabetes is a result of either a lack of, or an over a production of the hormone insulin which is vital for converting foods into energy. Insulin extracts sugars from your bloodstream and dependent upon the type and severity of the condition, it can lead to life-threatening health problems if it is not correctly controlled using manufactured insulin or other drugs. Bearing this in mind it is crucial that it is identified and treated as early as possible.

The relationship Between Periodontal Disease and Diabetes

One of the most common oral health issues is something called periodontal disease which affects the gums, soft tissue, and even the bones that support the teeth. It has its root cause in a bacterial infection that is often caused or aggravated by a build-up of toxic and poisonous plaque. If you suffer from diabetes, there is strong evidence to suggest that periodontal disease has an impact on controlling your blood sugar levels.

Controlling periodontal disease through correct oral hygiene is therefore vitally important to diabetics. The current method of addressing the issue of oral health and diabetes is a treatment using antibiotics and regular oral hygiene both personally and by your dentist or hygienist. The further good news is that in many instances, this regime has acted to lower the insulin requirements of some diabetic patients.

The importance of communication

If you are diabetic you should make sure that your dental practitioner is made fully aware of your condition and you should bear in mind the connection between periodontal disease and blood sugar levels. As a diabetic, your risk of developing periodontal disease is increased by up to four times. Doctors and dentists are beginning to recognize the huge benefits of communicating with each other concerning oral and general health issues in patients.

What to look out for

The signs of periodontal disease include red and swollen gums that are likely to bleed after flossing or brushing. They may also be sore and tender to the touch. A yellow tinted or milky white plaque between the teeth and near the gum line is also a sign as is foul smelling breath. In severe cases, the gums may be receding and exposing the roots of the teeth which can eventually lead to tooth loss.

Helping yourself and your dentist

In diabetics where blood sugar levels are well controlled dental treatment will usually follow the same course as it would for a patient without the condition. The early phases of periodontal disease are controlled by regular descaling (removal of the plaque) and the frequency of these treatments is likely to increase in line with the severity of the condition.

There is some evidence to suggest that oral surgeries may also affect blood sugar. By making sure that you eat before dental surgeries you can further ensure that your blood sugar levels remain stable. Regular personal oral hygiene and improved nutrition can also help in reducing the build-up of plaque.

If you are concerned about diabetes and oral health or you just need a helpful and friendly dentist, you need to contact the team here at Signal Hill Dental Centre now!