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Diabetes & Oral Health

You probably already know that diabetes affects your kidneys, heart, eyes and other areas of the body, but did you know that it also affects oral health? In fact, those with diabetes are at a far higher risk of gum disease. Left unchecked, gum disease can have serious consequences, from tooth loss to chewing difficulties.

One symptom of diabetes is dry mouth, which can result in pain, ulcers, infections and tooth decay. Often, smoking worsens symptoms. Other symptoms to look out for include sore or swollen gums, bleeding gums, receding gums, loose teeth and bad breath. While these symptoms could also indicate other types of oral disease, you cannot afford to rule out the chance of diabetes – especially if you have a history of the disease in your family. In this guide, we take a look at the relationship between diabetes and oral health.

How Diabetes Affects Oral Health

The most effective way to ensure optimal oral health if you have diabetes is to control your blood glucose levels. If you experience any of the symptoms we have listed above, speak to your doctor immediately. Those with higher blood glucose levels are more likely to get gum disease. Very often, those who are not controlling their blood glucose levels will find themselves at higher risk of more serious cases of gum disease as well. Some of the ways that you can reduce the risk of oral disease include the following:

  • Maintain your blood sugar levels. Keep using your diabetes medication as prescribed, follow the diet your doctor has recommended, get in your daily exercise and ensure that you do not allow your blood sugar levels to get out of control. This is the most effective way to prevent oral disease.
  • Maintain a healthy dental cleaning routine. That means daily brushing and flossing, regular dental appointments and professional cleaning every year. Bigger problems arise when tiny problems are ignored. Regular check-ups are the only way that your dentist will be able to evaluate your teeth and gums to spot potential signs of disease early. These tips on how to clean your teeth correctly will help you find out the best way to clean.
  • Avoid smoking. Smoking will increase your risk of gum disease and also worsen symptoms that you already have from the diabetes. If you are thinking about quitting, now is always the best time to do so… before you put your gums and teeth at further risk.
  • If you wear dentures, clean them daily. Use correct products and soft brushes to clean dentures carefully and thoroughly. This will prevent a build-up of bacteria, reducing the risk of thrush and other diseases that may occur.

Ultimately, the best approach is to work with your dentist and doctor to make sure that you keep your blood sugar and dental appointments on track. Diabetes does not have to be a life sentence if it is correctly managed right from the start. An improvement in oral health is directly linked to better glucose levels within the so called normal range.  To find out more about making an appointment with our highly skilled team of oral health specialists and dentists in Durban, simply contact Gateway Dental today.