Most diagnosed diabetics know that increased blood glucose levels affect healing. But surprisingly few know that diabetes significantly impacts their oral health.
How does diabetes affect teeth and gums?
High blood glucose levels causes microvascular disease – i.e. damage to the tiny blood vessels in our bodies. There are hundreds of tiny blood vessels that supply our teeth and gums. Diabetics have a lack of blood flow in these areas. It doesn’t just stop there; diabetes also reduces our healing potential. The cells around our teeth turnover millions of times a day; diabetes damages this process. Our immune levels are reduced and therefore diabetics are more susceptible to gum disease.
Your dentist can diagnose diabetes
Unfortunately, on many occasions, we have been able to diagnose raised blood glucose or pre-diabetes, simply by carrying out a dental examination. A blood test to check longer term blood glucose control and raised blood glucose levels confirms the presence of the disease.
How should diabetics look after their dental health
Regular dental examinations are important to assess dental health to allow for early disease detection. Our diabetic patients are advised to see the dental hygienist at least four times a year to ensure optimum gum health. Interdental cleaning is a must. Regular use of floss and interdental brushes will ensure that the gums are kept as clean as possible. Without interdental cleaning, only two thirds of the tooth surfaces are cleaned.
If you lose your teeth through diabetes
Commonly, patients lose their teeth as a result of diabetic complications. It’s important that as a patient you don’t rush into having complex dental procedures such as dental implants if your blood sugar is not under control. Unfortunately, uncontrolled diabetes is a contraindication to dental implants. The most important step is to get your blood glucose levels under control, then discuss the options with your dentist.