Diabetes is a chronic health condition that dramatically affects your entire body, including your teeth and gums. Around 90% of people have type 2, whereas 8% have type 1, according to Diabetes UK. A number of studies show that those who suffer with the disease are at higher risk for a variety of oral problems, infections, and other complications down the road. But what exactly is the link between diabetes and dental health?
A sugary connection
Most of the food we eat is broken down into starches or glucose (sugar) and is then released into the bloodstream to be used as energy. If your sugar levels increase, insulin is produced to keep it balanced. However, when not enough insulin is made, too much sugar can stay in your blood and saliva, causing bad bacteria to breed, form into sticky plaque and attack your gums and teeth.
Other health problems include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Kidney damage
- Vision loss
- Nerve damage
Subsequently, you will soon be faced with periodontal disease. Diabetes weakens the body’s ability to fight back infection and the build-up of plaque/calculus, which will eventually lead to an inflammation and bleeding of the gums (gingivitis). On a more severe level, periodontitis destroys the soft tissues and bone that support your teeth, resulting in receding gums and tooth loss.
Oral issues such as thrush caused by the yeast ‘candida albicans’ creates painful red or white patches inside the mouth, whereas another condition from diabetes called dry mouth (xerostomia) is caused by a lack of salvia. This in turn, puts you at further risk of developing periodontal disease – a vicious cycle if left untreated.
Dental care tips & treatments
By spotting the signs early, gingivitis can be prevented with a trip to the dental hygienist and through regular check-ups. However, in advanced cases, surgery may be required to remove plaque and calculus from the deep pockets around the teeth and make cleaning easier by re-ranging gum tissue.
At Ten Dental + Facial, we know that with proper care and treatment, your teeth and gums will last a lifetime. Our clinics in Balham, Wandsworth and Clapham High Street offer periodontal therapy for all patients, with expert periodontists on hand to help examine, advise and determine the treatment that’s right for you!
Here are some helpful ideas to ensure that your dental health is in tip-top condition, especially if you have diabetes:
- Check your blood sugar levels
Keep a close eye on your blood sugar levels and making sure they are within target range is the first step towards prevention. It is also important that your dentist is updated on a regular basis about your diabetes for signs of improvement or any changes in your condition.
- Brush and floss twice a day
This is a basic routine to follow, but a vital part of dental care and hygiene. Brushing and flossing your teeth every morning and evening removes food debris from previous meals and any plaque stuck in between your teeth.
- Avoid acidic and sugary foods
Sweets, carbonated energy drinks and alcohol – three culprits wanted for the crime of encouraging blood sugar levels to rise, tooth decay, and dehydration. Drinking more water and milk, alongside eating dairy products like cheese, milk, as well as fibre rich fruit are all beneficial in the increase of salvia and reducing the effects of enzymes and acids on your teeth and gums.
Call the professionals
We believe in providing high-quality oral care for patients across London and beyond. Get in touch with our friendly team of dentists to book an appointment for periodontal treatment and save your gums and teeth today before it’s too late.