When thinking about complications associated with diabetes, many people may be surprised to learn that oral health is one of them. In fact, research shows that there is an increased prevalence of gum disease among those with diabetes.
Why is this? Well, if your blood glucose levels are poorly controlled, you are more likely to develop serious gum disease and lose more teeth than people without diabetes. Like all infections, serious gum disease may be a factor in causing blood glucose to rise and may make diabetes harder to control.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with diabetes are two times more likely to develop gum disease. In fact, about one-third of people with diabetes have severe gum disease that includes the loss of attachment of their gums to their teeth.
Other oral problems associated with diabetes include: thrush, an infection caused by fungus that grows in the mouth, and dry mouth which can cause soreness, ulcers, infections and cavities.
It’s the perfect time to talk about this because October is National Dental Hygiene Month. To help raise awareness about oral health, and what people can do to help prevent dental problems, the Association is joining with Colgate to launch a new campaign. Our goal is to provide tips for prevention and treatment including:
• First and foremost, control your blood glucose level. Good blood glucose control can also help prevent or relieve dry mouth caused by diabetes.
• Watch your mouth and take good care of your teeth and gums! Begin to develop healthy oral care habits, like brushing and flossing. Research shows that brushing twice a day can help improve gum health in as little as four weeks.
• Visit your dentist for regular checkups every six months. While your doctor and certified diabetes educator play an important role in helping with your diabetes, so does your dentist. People with diabetes have special needs and your dentist and hygienist are equipped to meet those needs – with your help.
• Keep your dentist and hygienist informed of any changes in your condition and any medication you might be taking. Postpone any non-emergency dental procedures if your blood sugar is not in good control.
• To control thrush, a fungal infection, maintain good control of your diabetes, avoid smoking and, if you wear them, remove and clean dentures daily.
So remember, if you are living with diabetes, please watch your mouth! Visit the Association’s website for more tips and information on oral health.