We all know someone with diabetes or may even struggle with diabetes ourselves. We also know that diabetes is a disease that affects our entire body, including our oral health. One of the main challenges of diabetes is controlling blood sugar. People with high blood sugar also have a higher concentration of sugar in their saliva, which puts them at a higher risk of getting cavities since saliva is normally protective of teeth. Higher sugar content in saliva also makes your mouth an environment where it is easier for plaque and bacteria to build up on your teeth. More plaque and bacteria mean you are at a higher risk for periodontal (gum) inflammation or even periodontal disease and bone loss, which can lead to tooth loss.
People with diabetes are also at risk of having decreased saliva (dry mouth or Xerostomia). This can lead to increased risk of tooth decay, ulcers, sores and thrush (burning mouth or tongue). Dry mouth can be caused by uncontrolled blood sugar or simply from the medications that diabetic patients take. Make sure to let Dr. Stenvall know about any changes to your medications which will help her to know what medications she can and can’t prescribe you.
It is even more critical for diabetic patients to be diligent with their oral home care, because of these complications. We recommend our diabetic patients purchase an electric toothbrush and use it twice a day so they can thoroughly and easily keep their teeth clean. Also, maintaining regular hygiene visits at Queen City Dental Arts to help prevent oral problems and to catch any potential problems early before they create any pain or infection.
Keeping your blood sugar levels under control is the most important aspect in maintaining overall wellness when you have been diagnosed with diabetes. Your HgA1C (Hemoglobin A1C) is the best way to determine the stability of your long-term blood sugar levels. If your blood sugar is well-controlled, your A1C will most likely be below 7%. Higher A1C may cause poor healing in patients. Let our team at QCDA know if your diabetes is uncontrolled. You will want to postpone any surgical procedures until your blood sugar is more stable unless you have an acute dental infection that needs to be addressed right away. Be sure to follow any post-op instructions closely to prevent any complications after you go home.
Prevention is always the best policy! Do your best to keep your mouth clean at home by brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Work with your doctor on maintaining controlled blood sugar and if you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit. Reach out to Dr. Stenvall and the Queen City Dental Arts team if you have any questions about diabetes and how it may affect you and your oral health!