November is National Diabetes Month, and we are honoring the month by sharing with our patients the link between this disease and oral health. Did you know that diabetes can affect or be affected by your teeth and gums in a big way? It’s especially true when it comes to gum disease. Keep reading to learn more about how diabetes affects your oral health in Midland — and what you can do to promote good oral and overall health.
Type I Diabetes and Dental Health
There are some 200,000 people who have Type I diabetes (formerly known as juvenile diabetes) in the United States. Many of those cases are in children. No matter their age, folks with this form of diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease — some research suggesting that the risk increases by as much as 5 times for Type I diabetics.
Gum disease is closely linked with tooth loss, which means that diabetics are also at an increased risk of experiencing missing teeth if they do not seek prompt treatment for periodontitis.
Type II Diabetes and Dental Health
Periodontal disease is also closely linked with Type II diabetes, or adult-onset diabetes. In fact, gum disease is an indicator that many times can lead to diagnosis. Research shows that people who struggle to maintain their blood glucose levels are more likely to have gum disease, and that having gum disease can make blood sugar more difficult to regulate.
Unlike with Type I diabetes, millions of people are at-risk of developing Type II diabetes due to weight management, diet, and other lifestyle choices. Because these two conditions are closely linked, that means the risk of gum disease and resulting tooth loss is also increasing.
Preventing Gum Disease as a Diabetic
At the same time, just because you have diabetes does not mean you will experience periodontal problems. Whether you are diabetic or not, maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for preventing gum disease.
Follow these steps to keep your oral and overall health in check:
- Brush your teeth for two minutes, at least twice a day and an extra time if you indulge in a sugary snack or dessert
- Floss between teeth daily
- Visit your dentist at least every six months or as often as they recommend
- Take all medications as directed
- Monitor blood glucose levels
- Maintain a balanced, nutritious diet
- Exercise daily
Communicate with your dentist frequently if you are pre-diabetic or diabetic — they need to know in order to provide proper treatment and to help you avoid gum disease. Taking precautionary steps and working closely with a professional can help you keep your smile healthy and happy!
Meet the Dentist
Dr. Robert E. Christensen is a general dentist offering experienced and compassionate care for patients in Midland since 1979. He provides excellent preventive, restorative, cosmetic, and implant dentistry services to help meet just about every smile need. If you are in need of gum disease treatment or prevention related to diabetes, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Christensen’s team at 432-219-2666.