Today is American Diabetes Alert Day, and while most people know by now that a person’s weight and lifestyle habits can increase his or her chances of developing diabetes, they may not be aware of the connection between dental care and this disease. If having clean teeth and fresh breath aren’t enough reasons for you to pay attention your oral health, maybe the fact that proper dental care may lower your risk of diabetes will do it.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), people with the blood glucose disorder should know that diabetes carries an increased risk of periodontal disease. Furthermore, scientists are finding that having serious gum disease may contribute to the development of diabetes.
“Emerging research also suggests that the relationship between serious gum disease and diabetes is two-way. Not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to serious gum disease, but serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes,” stated to the ADA.
People who already have diabetes need to be particularly stringent about their oral health. According to the Mayo Clinic, the high blood sugar that comes with this disease takes a toll on the entire body, and that includes teeth and gums.
Here are two common dental problems to look out for if you have diabetes:
- Tooth Decay – Your mouth naturally has bacteria in it. The starches and sugars in food interact with the bacteria and form plaque on the teeth. The acids in plaque erode away at tooth enamel, causing cavities. If you have diabetes, high blood sugar can cause more sugars and starches in the mouth, which is why you need to brush often.
- Gum Disease – Diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic, can reduce your ability to fight bacteria, which can cause more plaque to build on the teeth. Without regular brushing and flossing, this plaque will harden under the gumline into a substance called tartar, which can lead to gum disease and gingivitis.
So, what should you do if you have diabetes to avoid tooth decay and gum disease? Along with brushing and flossing daily, you should:
- Go to the dentist: Get regular dental checkups, at least twice a year.
- Look for the signs: Catching gum disease early can get it taken care of before it progresses. These signs include red, swollen or bleeding gums.
- Avoid smoking: Smoking has been shown to increase the risk of diabetes complications, including gum disease.
Are you surprised to find out that dental care it related to diabetes? Let us know in the comments below.