Diabetes, Gum Disease, and How Your Dentist Can Help

Studies show that 29.1 million people living in the United States have diabetes.  That’s nearly 10% of the population.  Approximately 1.7 million new cases are diagnosed each year.  Nearly 8.1 million people are living with diabetes and don’t even know it.  People with diabetes are more likely to develop gum disease. Wondering how your dentist can help?  

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high.  Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy.  Sometimes your body doesn’t make enough, or any, insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn’t reach your cells.

Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems. Although diabetes has no cure, you can take steps to manage your diabetes and stay healthy.  This includes keeping your mouth happy and free from gum disease.

What is Gum Disease?

If diabetes is left untreated, it can take a toll on your mouth. Here’s how:

  • You may have less saliva, causing your mouth to feel dry.
  • Because saliva protects your teeth, you’re also at a higher risk of cavities.
  • Gums may become inflamed and bleed often, a sign of gingivitis.
  • You may have problems tasting food.
  • You may experience delayed wound healing.
  • You may be susceptible to infections inside your mouth.
  • For children with diabetes, teeth may erupt at an age earlier than is typical.

There is more tiny bacteria living in their mouth than there are people on this planet. If they take up residence in your gums, you can end up with periodontal (gum) disease.  This chronic inflammatory disease can destroy your gums, the tissue holding your teeth and even your bones.

Nearly 22% of those diagnosed with diabetes will develop periodontal disease.  As people age, poor blood sugar control increases the risk of gum problems. As with all infections, serious gum disease may cause blood sugar to rise due to poor blood sugar control.  This makes diabetes harder to control because you are more susceptible to infections. As a result, you are less able to fight the bacteria seizing your gums.

How can Your Dentist Help?

It’s important that you see your dentist regularly.  Research suggests that treating gum disease can help improve blood sugar control in patients living with diabetes.  Blood sugar control can help decrease the progression of the disease. Practicing good oral hygiene and having professional deep cleanings performed by your dentist can assist in keeping your HbA1c showing controlled results.  HbA1c is a lab exam that shows your average level of blood sugar over the previous three months. It indicates how well you are controlling your diabetes.

Managing diabetes is a lifelong commitment, and that includes proper dental care. Your efforts will be rewarded with a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.  Contact Ascend Dental Care today to keep you on the right path toward a healthy smile.

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