Diabetic? Here’s What Your Dentist Wants You to Know
November is National Diabetes Month, so we wanted to take a moment to address the specific dental concerns and needs of patients with diabetes. Self-advocacy and self-care is the priority for anyone with health concerns, and diabetes is no exception. A dentist should be part of your care team, and this is what your dentist wants you to know.
Type I Diabetes and Dental Health
Type I Diabetes affects up to 3 million Americans, and about 30,000 are diagnosed each year. According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), about 15% of those with Type 1 diabetes are children. (Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/facts-statistics-infographic)
Those with Type I Diabetes are more predisposed to gum disease. In fact, one study found periodontitis was 5x more prevalent in those with Type 1 diabetes than those without!
Oral Care for Type II Diabetics
Just as Type 1, research shows an increased occurrence of gum disease (both gingivitis and periodontitis) in Type II diabetic patients, and that the two may be related. Those who struggle with glucose management are more susceptible to serious gum disease, and likewise, gum disease can affect blood sugar levels negatively.
Diabetes affects nearly 30 million children and adults in the US. That’s 1 in 11 Americans.
Gum disease is bacteria that builds up in the pockets of the gums that causes them to become red, swollen, and bloody when touched. Because diabetics are more susceptible to bacterial infections, and less able to fight them, is why good oral care to fight off gum disease is so important.
Preventing Gum Disease as a Diabetic
Good oral health is critical for general health, whether or not you have diabetes. Following these guidelines will help you, and your mouth, teeth, and gums to stay healthy:
- Brush your teeth twice a day for two full minutes. Tilt your brush towards your gum-line and brush in a circular motion.
- Floss daily
- Rinse daily with an ADA approved mouthwash
- Consider chewing sugar-free gum to increase saliva levels
- See your dentist twice a year for check-ups, more often if you are experiencing pain or have dental concerns
Before your appointment:
- Maintain a health blood glucose level
- Eat healthy and as normal before your appointment
- Take your medication
- Talk to your dentist about any medications you are taking and if they have changed
- Bring your blood testing supplies
- Let your dentist know if you feel unstable from low blood glucose levels
- Make your appointment in the morning
- Talk to your dentist about any concerns related to procedures that could affect your blood sugar levels (such as fasting for a procedure or not being able to eat after one)
World Diabetes Day
Organizations worldwide will host Diabetes awareness events on November 14th for World Diabetes Day. Visit the International Diabetes Federation’s World Diabetes Day website to find events near you.
Whether adult or child, Type I diabetic or Type II, establishing and maintaining healthy oral habits including regular brushing, flossing, rinsing, and chewing are important. Seeing a dentist twice a year should also be a part part of your routine. Find your next dentist at Perfect Teeth today!