One in ten Americans have diabetes, and while it’s incredibly prevalent, especially among older Americans, many people don’t realize how this condition affects so many functions within the body, particularly dental health. However, periodontal disease is the most common complication associated with diabetes, affecting up to 22 percent of those diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Dr. Schmitt and Dr. Sninski, two leading dentists in Cary, are sharing a closer look at diabetes and dental health and what you need to know.

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Dental Warning Signs of Diabetes

While many people know the warning signs of diabetes such as excessive thirst, weight loss, and fatigue, diabetes can make itself known through your dental health. Some warning signs include:

  • Less saliva production
  • Problems tasting food
  • More frequent infections in the mouth, including abscesses
  • Slow healing after dental procedures.
  • Inflamed gums that are prone to bleeding.

Why Diabetes Puts Your Dental Health at Risk

Diabetes is caused by consistently high blood sugar levels, and if the level of sugar in your blood is high, it will also be high in your saliva. Bacteria in your mouth and in dental plaque feed on the sugars in your mouth, and in doing so, produce an acidic substance. These acids damage tooth enamel and over time, lead to cavities, tooth decay, and even gingivitis or periodontal disease.

Compounding this issue is that saliva production is decreased. Saliva is an essential substance, necessary for keeping your teeth rinsed between brushing. If your mouth is chronically dry this can also leave you susceptible to more cavities and gum problems.

Diabetes and Healing

While cavities and gum disease are concerning, diabetes also leaves you more susceptible to infection, and dental infections are particularly dangerous. Getting immediate care when there is a cavity or your gums are inflamed will minimize the risk of infection as well as tooth loss.

How to Maintain Your Dental Health with Diabetes

The good news is that proper care can minimize the effects of diabetes on your dental health. In addition to managing your diabetes with assistance from your healthcare provider, you also want to practice proper dental health care. This includes:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day, taking care to avoid brushing too hard and irritating your gums.
  • Floss daily to remove food particles in hard-to-reach places. Waxed floss or a water flosser can help if your gums are prone to bleeding.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your mouth from being too dry and to keep your mouth rinsed.
  • Quit smoking as this increases the risk of gum disease, decay, and tooth loss.
  • Report any signs of gum disease, including redness, swelling, or bleeding, to your dentist immediately, as well as other symptoms like loose teeth.
  • Schedule your regular dentist twice a year, being sure to tell your dentist you have diabetes.

Schedule a Checkup at Our Cary Dental Office

If you need to schedule a teeth cleaning and checkup, we are here to help! Call us at our Holly Springs dentist office at (919) 600-6262 and our Cary, NC dentist office at (919) 467-2203, or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.