November is American Diabetes Month. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 34 million Americans have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, making it one of the most prevalent systemic diseases in the country. Many people may not realize that diabetes can impact your oral health in important ways. The reverse is also true: taking care of your oral health can also help keep diabetes under control.
How diabetes affects your oral health
On their MouthHealthy.org website, the American Dental Association explains that people with diabetes are at greater risk for gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis. This is primarily due to increased blood sugar levels that allow bacteria to thrive. Your blood sugar levels also rise when you have gum disease, making diabetes even harder to control.
Diabetes can affect your mouth in additional ways, such as decreasing the amount of saliva in your mouth. Because saliva protects your teeth, this can make someone with diabetes more prone to cavities. Diabetes can also cause a fungal infection called thrush, which is marked by painful white patches in your mouth that can affect your sense of taste and ability to swallow.
Caring for your mouth with diabetes
Taking control of your oral health can help improve blood sugar levels and prevent many oral health problems. If you have diabetes, you can care for your mouth in several important ways, including:
- Monitor your blood glucose levels closely to ensure they are within your target range.
- Brush your teeth at least twice daily with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss at least once daily.
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year, and more often if you notice any problems such as pain or bleeding in your mouth.
- Eat healthy meals and avoid sugary foods and beverages.
- If you wear dentures, keep them clean and remove them at night.
- Stop smoking.
Be sure to discuss your overall health and medical history with your dental team so they can help provide you with the best care possible. Maintaining a good partnership with your dentist can keep your smile healthy and help you manage diabetes. Schedule an appointment with us today!