Each year about 800,000 new cases of diabetes are diagnosed. Even more frightening- the Center for Disease Control reported a 70% increase in diabetes diagnosed in 30-39 year olds from 1990-1998. In diabetics, the blood glucose level is higher than normal due to a lack of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, the organ that breaks down sugar in our bodies. Diabetics are typically unable to produce enough insulin or use the body’s natural insulin. Heart disease, blindness, organ failure, and poor circulation are medical concerns associated with high glucose levels. However, diabetes also increases the risk of gum disease, which can affect your overall health.
The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis. Gingivitis occurs when normal bacteria in the mouth are not removed adequately. This causes the gums to become inflamed or swollen. Bacteria grow in plaque, a sticky film that everyone can remove with proper brushing and flossing. If the plaque is not removed, it hardens into tartar (also known as calculus). When teeth are not cleaned properly, gums start to bleed while brushing and flossing, a sign of gingivitis. Only a professional cleaning by your dental hygienist or dentist and can remove tartar or calculus. The dentists and dental hygienists at McCarl Dental Group emphasize preventive oral hygiene. Every patient has unique oral health needs. Some people are more prone to plaque accumulation and need to have their teeth cleaned professionally by a dental hygienist more often than the usually recommended time interval of every six months.
If gingivitis is ignored, more severe gum disease called periodontitis may develop. Periodontitis causes pockets to form between your teeth and gums. The gums pull away from your teeth allowing more germs to enter. The resulting infection may cause bone loss around your teeth which often leads to loose teeth and ultimately results in losing teeth. Missing teeth cause additional health problems.
Research indicates a strong correlation between gum disease and diabetes. Diabetics are more prone to bacterial infections and cannot fight bacterial infections as well as a patient with normal glucose levels. Common symptoms of oral infections include swelling, pus, pain while chewing or general pain in the mouth, oral sensitivity to temperature and sweetness, and white or red patches within the mouth.
New, studies emphasize the importance of oral health and suggest that gum disease may actually contribute to diabetes. Serious oral infections like periodontitis can cause unbalanced glucose levels which increase the risk factors for diabetes.
Preventing oral health problems in diabetics is first controlled by regulating diabetes. Keep a healthy glucose level. Secondly, brush and floss your teeth properly at least twice daily. Finally, maintain regular check-ups with your dentist. Make sure to keep your dentist and hygienist updated on your health condition, medications, and glucose levels. Dental procedures are best performed when blood sugar is carefully controlled. Diabetics are typically slower healers, so regulating diabetes allows for a faster healing time. Remember to eat before heading to the dental office and stick to your normal meal plans afterwards in order to maintain regular blood sugar levels. If you cannot chew well after the visit, plan an alternative way to sustain your calorie intake. If you have any concerns about how your diabetes will affect your upcoming dental visit, please contact McCarl Dental Group serving Anne Arundel County and Prince Georges County Maryland to plan your strategy for a healthy smile.