If you are diabetic, you already know how important it is to keep your disease under control. But did you also know that diabetes that is not carefully controlled may lead to periodontal disease (infections of the gums and bone which hold your teeth in place) in diabetics of all ages?

As a diabetic, controlling your blood glucose is perhaps the most important step you can take to prevent tooth and gum problems. And, proper care of your teeth and gums can go a long way in preventing the onset of the oral problems often associated with diabetes.

Dental Image ExamFact is, blood vessel changes occur in people with diabetes. These thickened blood vessels can slow the flow of nutrients and the removal of harmful wastes from body tissues. This impaired blood flow can contribute to weakening of the gums and bone, making them more susceptible to infection.

When diabetes is poorly controlled, higher glucose levels will be found in the fluids in the mouth, which encourages the growth of bacteria… bacteria that can set the stage for gum disease.

Another factor, smoking, is extremely harmful to oral health even for people without diabetes. However, a person with diabetes who smokes is at a much greater risk for gum disease than someone who does not have diabetes. Together with poor oral hygiene, diabetes can lead to gingivitis, the first stage of periodontal disease, or even to periodontitis, a very severe gum disease.

Be sure to let the dentist know that you have diabetes, particularly when you are seeing the dentist for the first time. People with diabetes should have dental check-ups at least every 6 months – more often if recommended by the dentist. Frequent dental check-ups will help find problems early on, when treatment can be most effective.

As a diabetic, if you experience any trouble with your teeth or your mouth, it is important that you visit the dentist as soon as possible. Scheduling your dental appointment for early in the morning, after you have eaten a normal breakfast, will help stabilize and prevent a severe or sudden drop in your blood sugar levels.

Yours for better dental health,

Dr. Jim Hallam

Photo by Joseph Morris