By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert
If you have type I or type II diabetes, you’re at a higher risk for developing cavities, gingivitis, and periodontitis. That means it’s especially important that you take good care of your teeth and gums by brushing and flossing regularly.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with diabetes, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff Eggert can answer any questions you may have about how to best take care of your oral health. With the right strategies, managing the effects of diabetes on your dental health can be easy! Read on for more information about how diabetes can affect your dental health, and how the team at Eggert Family Dentistry can help.
What is Diabetes?
To understand how diabetes affects your dental health, we need to understand how diabetes works.
Most of the food you eat is processed as sugar. When your blood sugar reaches a certain level, a hormone called insulin is released. Insulin allows the sugar in your blood to be transferred to cells and used as energy.
With diabetes, however, your body doesn’t make enough insulin, or can’t use it as well as it should. Without enough insulin, too much sugar stays in your bloodstream.
High blood sugar can also weaken white blood cells, which are your body’s main way to fight infections. Over time, this decreased immune response can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.
How Does Diabetes Affect Dental Health?
Everyone has billions of tiny bacteria living in their mouths. Some are good bacteria, and some are bad. When a person doesn’t brush their teeth or floss enough, the bad bacteria surrounding your teeth are given the opportunity to enter the gums and cause irritation, inflammation, and bleeding.
According to the American Diabetes Association, “If you have diabetes—especially if you’re not meeting your targets—you will have more of an inflammatory response [to the bad bacteria], which could result in a loss of supporting tissue for your teeth.” Too much loss of this gum and bone tissue that supports a tooth could result in the tooth needing to be removed.
To put it simply, diabetes accelerates the negative effects of bad bacteria in your mouth. While it may take a while for someone without diabetes to develop cavities and gum disease, for someone with diabetes, these processes occur at an accelerated rate and the damage is more severe.
Once you have an infection, diabetes can make it hard for your body to fight it. High blood sugar can weaken white blood cells, which means your overall immune response is also weakened.
Diabetes can also cause dry mouth. The lack of saliva from dry mouth means food debris, sugar, acid and bacteria don’t get washed away as easily. This leads to the formation of more plaque, which erodes the enamel and causes the aforementioned infections.
How to Protect Your Dental Health
Developing and maintaining good oral health is the best way to prevent cavities, gingivitis, and periodontal disease, whether you have diabetes or not. But if you do have diabetes, it’s extra important that you create good dental health habits.
The cornerstones of good dental health are:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day
- Flossing between your teeth once a day
- Regularly scheduling dentist cleanings/appointments
Good blood sugar control will also help your body fight any bacterial or fungal infections in your mouth. The better you’re hitting your targets, the better equipped your body will be to protect itself against gingivitis and gum disease. It will also help relieve dry mouth caused by diabetes.
Don’t Let Diabetes Hurt Your Dental Health—Eggert Dentistry Can Help!
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, come see Dr. Elizabeth Eggert and Dr. Jeff Eggert. We have experience in helping our patients with diabetes protect against tooth decay, gingivitis, periodontal disease, and more with regularly scheduled recare visits and fluoride treatments.
To talk with us about any questions you may have, or to schedule an appointment, call our office at 651.482.8412. We’re here to help you maintain a happy, healthy mouth! We provide “Dentistry for a Lifetime of Smiles!”