Diabetes And How It Affects Your Dental Health

diabetes, dental health

Just over 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes – that’s 34.2 million Americans. Approximately 1 in 3, or 88 million Americans, have pre-diabetes. Those are jarring statistics. Not only is this a serious concern for your overall health, but it also takes a toll on your mouth and dental health as well. Let’s learn more about diabetes with this information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and how you can take steps to support your health.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy.

  • Most food we eat is broken down into glucose, or sugar.
  • This sugar gets released in your bloodstream causing your blood sugar to go up.
  • This signals your pancreas to release insulin which lets this blood sugar into your body cells to use as energy.

When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. This allows too much blood sugar to stay in your bloodstream. Over time, that can cause serious health problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart, and other parts of your body.

Types of Diabetes

There are three types of this disease:

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  • Type I
    • Occurs when the body doesn’t make enough insulin.
    • Approximately 5-10% of the people who have diabetes have Type I.
    • Usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults.
    • Need to take insulin every day to survive.
    • No currently known way to prevent Type 1 diabetes.
  • Type II
    • Occurs when the body stops responding to insulin.
    • 90-95% of people with diabetes have Type II.
    • Develops over many years and is usually diagnosed in adults but now more children and teens are being diagnosed.
    • Can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active.
  • Gestational
    • Develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes.
    • Usually goes away after your baby is born but increases your risk for Type II later in life.

Oral Symptoms Related to Diabetes

Periodontal disease is the most common dental disease for those living with the disease, affecting nearly 22% of those diagnosed. Other dental-related concerns are:

  • Less saliva causing your mouth to feel dry, often caused by medication.
  • Higher risk of cavities due to less saliva, which protects teeth by providing a natural rinse.
  • Gums may become inflamed and bleed often, a condition called gingivitis.
  • You may have problems tasting food.
  • You may experience delayed wound healing.
  • You may be susceptible to infections inside of your mouth.
  • For children with diabetes, teeth may erupt at an age earlier than is typical.

Your Dental Health Action Plan

Teamwork involving self-care and professional care from your dentist will be beneficial in keeping your healthy smile as well as potentially slowing the progression of this disease. Here are five oral health-related things you can do for optimal wellness:

  • Do your best to control your blood sugar levels. Good blood sugar control helps your body fight any bacterial or fungal infections in your mouth and helps relieve dry mouth caused by diabetes.
    • Use your medications as directed,
    • Change to a healthier diet.
    • Exercise.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • If you wear any type of denture, clean them daily.
  • Make sure to brush twice a day with a soft brush and clean between your teeth daily.
  • See your dentist for regular checkups.

Remember, your dental health is a key factor in your overall physical wellbeing. It is also a good indicator of other health concerns. Make sure to call our office at (248) 852-3130 to make your six-month check-up to keep on top of your oral health. We can help answer questions you may have.

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