How can diabetes affect your oral health?
We all have small bacteria living in our mouths. If they are not removed they cause inflammation of the gums resulting in periodontal disease (gum disease).
Gum disease is common among people living with diabetes. Age and poor blood sugar control can increase the chances of gum disease. Gum disease in a serious state can cause blood sugar levels to rise making it hard for people with diabetes to control.
Diabetes is when the body does not produce or use insulin correctly. Insulin is required to convert sugar and other foods into energy. With diabetes your body has trouble producing or using insulin and as a result your body does not get the energy it needs and blood sugar levels remain too high. Diabetes can not only affect your oral health but increase the risk of heart disease and sleep apnoea.
Over 100,000 people in Western Australia have diabetes. 9.5% have type 1, 87.5% type 2 and 2.6% gestational diabetes. Type 1 is when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin usually diagnosed in childhood/ early adulthood. There is no prevention or cure. Type 2 is more common due to lifestyle choices; type 2 is managed with diet and exercise along with occasionally medications. Gestational is due to the hormones that help a baby grow blocking the production of insulin.
Diabetes may lead to higher risk of infections not only in the gums but tooth decay due to the high level of glucose in the saliva and oral thrush.
There are ways to minimise these risks.
- Brush your teeth twice a day to remove plaque. Most importantly brush at night when bacteria does the most harm.
- Clean between teeth once a day to remove plaque.
- Use fluoridated toothpaste with antibacterial properties.
- Regularly visit your dentist and hygienist.
- Do not smoke.
Concerned about diabetes? Some signs can be:
However many warning signs go unnoticed.
It is important to see your doctor for tests if you are at all concerned about having diabetes. Keep your dentist up to date with your diabetic condition and talk to your hygienist about potential gum problems.