Dental Health For Diabetics
Diabetes is a disease that affects the entire body, including the mouth. It is very important for people who have diabetes to pay special attention to their dental health. People who suffer from diabetes have trouble fighting off bacterial infections because the disease impairs white blood cells. It is the white blood cells that gang up on infections and fight them off; this becomes a circular problem as diabetics have more dental problems that their white blood cells cannot combat, leading to more dental health problems.
Dental Health Problems
Diabetes causes a decrease in saliva, which leaves the patient constantly thirsty. All too often diabetics reach for coffee, tea or diet soda. These beverages wet the mouth, but do not assist in healing the mouth. Water is a much better choice for refreshing the mouth and for hydrating the body. The conditions of dry mouth can cause ulcers in the mouth, infections and tooth decay.
Diabetes also causes inflammation throughout the body and blood vessels thicken, resulting in circulation being reduced throughout the body. Blood, as it circulates, serves two very important functions: it deposits nutrients to all of the tissues, and it also picks up waste products so they can be eliminated. When the circulatory system is not functioning properly it take longer for the body to heal sores. Poor circulation and ill-functioning white blood cells leads to more infections; gum inflammation, like gingivitis and periodontitis, are common problems diabetics suffer from since both are bacterial infections.
Controlling Your Blood Sugar Levels
Diabetes reduces healing so it is very important for diabetics to pay special attention to their oral health and try to prevent as many problems as they can. Make regular appointments with a dentist who can stay on top of any potential problems. Some diabetics need to take antibiotics on a regular basis just to keep their infections under control.
Diabetics who are able to keep their blood sugar under control tend to have less dental problems than those with uncontrolled blood sugar. The dentist will want to ask questions about blood sugar and HgA1C to establish blood sugar control. It is important for the dentist to know how well the diabetes is being controlled so he/she can customize a treatment plan that will cause the least amount of harm to the patient.
Diabetics who change their diets find that their blood sugar is easier to control, and they, therefore, have less dental problems. Blood sugar levels remain more stable by eating low carbohydrate foods, such as green vegetables, beans and lower fat meats. Refined foods or any processed foods turn into sugar more quickly; causing blood sugar spikes that make diabetes very hard to control.
Diabetics should see a dentist at least twice a year for cleaning and check-ups; more often is recommended if gum disease is present. Brushing twice a day is important for everyone, but diabetics need to make sure their mouths are clean and remove as much bacteria causing material as possible. Rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash can also reduce the amount of bacteria that can cause plaque and gum disease.
Zane Schwarzlose is a writer at Greenpoint Dental, a Houston dental office. Zane is glad he’s not diabetic.