A 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 9.4% of the United States population—that’s 30.3 million Americans—now has diabetes. According to a recent report from Blue Cross Blue Shield, diabetes is also currently the third most common health issue among insured Americans, following closely behind high blood pressure and mood disorders. Findings from this study also show that diabetes is growing at the quickest rate in the millennial age group.
Aside from soaring medical costs (in 2012 alone costs associated with the care of those with diabetes accounted for $245 billion) there are also a wide range of healthcare issues associated with Type I and Type II diabetes, some of which include periodontal disease and other oral health concerns. In this post, we will discuss what you need to know about diabetes and your oral health.
Diabetes is closely tied to oral inflammation, periodontal disease, and other oral health issues. Four common oral health issues that we often see in patients with diabetes include:
The high levels of blood sugar associated with diabetes can destroy white blood cells, leading to a weaker immune system and a lowered ability to fight infections. Due to this decrease in immunity, patients with diabetes are much more likely to experience gum inflammation and disease including both gingivitis and periodontitis.
Another common side effect of diabetes is a decrease in saliva production due to blood sugar irregularities. This decrease in the flow of saliva often leads to dry mouth, which can exacerbate existing oral problems including tooth decay, infections, ulcers, and soreness.
Since diabetes can weaken the immune system, it can also affect the healing process in patients undergoing dental procedures. This can result in a slower healing time for some patients with diabetes, as well as improper healing in some instances.
Some patients with diabetes take antibiotics to prevent infections due to decreased immunity. However, this can actually increase the risk of fungal infections of the mouth. One of the most common fungal infections found in patients with diabetes is thrush, which can lead to other oral health issues including a burning sensation in the mouth.
Although you may be worried about the increased risk of periodontal disease and other oral health issues associated with diabetes, the good news is that there are measures you can take to manage and prevent these issues.
Aside from practicing good oral hygiene practices like flossing and brushing, one of the most critical elements to maintaining good oral health for patients with diabetes is making regular appointments to visit your dentist. This is because regular dental checkups are critical in diagnosing and effectively treating any issues that may arise. As with most patients, we suggest scheduling checkups every six months. However, depending on your risk factors, your dentist may want to see your more frequently.
If you are concerned about diabetes and your oral health and are looking for a dentist in Franklin, TN, and the surrounding area, our team is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about preventing and treating oral health issues associated with diabetes.
We understand the importance of having a dentist you can trust. And that means not being sent off to a different specialist every time you need a new procedure. At Nashville Restorative Dentistry, we are equipped to handle the majority of your dental needs from cosmetic to restorative, implants to extractions. When you come to us, you are getting a dental team for life.