November is National Diabetes Month and it’s a time when we bring attention to diabetes and how it has impacted millions of Americans. Did you know roughly 29.1 million people living in the United States are afflicted with diabetes? That’s almost 10% of the population.
According to MouthHealthy.org, approximately 1.7 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed each year – and around 8.1 million people are living with diabetes and don’t know it. Insulin is a hormone used to carry sugar from your blood to the cells that need it for energy.
Diabetes affects how your body is able to process sugar. Diabetes happens when either your pancreas isn’t making any insulin, is making very little insulin, or your body isn’t responding to insulin normally.
All the food we eat us turned to sugar and subsequently used for energy. The differences between the two types of diabetes:
- Type I diabetes: The body isn’t producing enough insulin.
- Type II diabetes: The body stops responding to insulin.
No matter what the case is, it results in high blood sugar levels, which can cause issues all over your body, including your eyes, nerves, heart, and other parts of your body.
So, what exactly does diabetes have to do with your oral health? It’s important to know the signs of diabetes and understand how they affect your oral health. If left untreated, diabetes can cause havoc in your mouth:
- Less saliva, which can cause your mouth to feel dry.
- Dry mouth is also caused by a variety of medications.
- Saliva guards your teeth – dry mouth means a higher risk of cavities
- Higher chance of developing inflamed gums (gingivitis).
- Negatively affects your ability to taste the food.
- A delay in wound healing.
- Increased susceptibility to infections in your mouth.
- Children’s teeth may erupt at an age earlier than is usual.
We all have tiny bacteria living in our mouths – billions of these guys! If they are exposed to your teeth for long periods of time, you have an increased chance of developing periodontal disease. This disease is chronic and inflammatory. It can destroy your gums, the tissues holding your teeth, and even the bones in your face. Periodontal disease is the most common dental disease – affecting nearly 22% of those diagnosed with diabetes.
Especially as we age, poor blood sugar control increases the risk of having gum problems. In fact, people with diabetes are at a higher risk for gum problems because of bad blood sugar control. Like any infection, serious gum disease has been shown to cause blood sugar to rise. Diabetes will be harder to control because you are more susceptible to infections and are not able to fight the bacteria invading your gums.
If your blood sugar is not under control, it’s important to talk with both your dentist and physician, especially when it comes to receiving elective dental care. Dental procedures are typically short and stress-free. Also, you should make morning appointments since your blood glucose levels will be under better control at this time of day.
If you have a scheduled appointment, make sure to eat and take your medications as you regularly would. Visit the dentists at Foothill Dental Care in Livermore – it’s important to keep your dentist informed of your health status and to learn more about how you can maintain your oral health with diabetes. Give us a call today at (925) 961-5484.