Health concerns regarding diabetes might not be something that crop up on your agenda, but November is the month to start thinking seriously about this health condition. November is National Diabetes Month and is a timely reminder to consider out overall state of general wellbeing. A thought that might not be so common during this month is to get a check up with you dentist. What many people don’t realize that there is a link between diabetes and dental concerns such as gum disease. This is why, as National Diabetes Month encourages you to become more aware of health problems related to diabetes, you shouldn’t forget about your mouth during this time.
Emerging research suggests that having diabetes puts you at risk of increasingly complicated gum problems. Gum disease, or periodontitis in its most severe form, is when gums begin to pull away from teeth. This leaves pockets of air between your gum and teeth, meaning that germs and pus can move in and create serious issues. Among the symptoms of gum disease are jaw pain, tenderness while brushing your teeth, and bleeding.
There is also research that indicates patients with diabetes are at risk of other oral health problems, such as gingivitis. This is because diabetes leaves you more susceptible to bacterial infection. Diabetes also decreases your abilities to fight and prevent bacteria from getting stronger between your gums.
Gum disease is also linked to diabetes in other ways. Serious periodontitis can potentially affect blood glucose control and contribution to diabetes progressing in patients.
During National Diabetes Month, consider these things about your oral health care to raise your awareness of dental concerns associated with diabetes.
How am I at risk of dental problems if I have diabetes?
As diabetes alters the blood glucose levels, this impacts infections in the mouth. A lack of control of blood sugar levels can lead to gum disease and teeth loss occurring more easily. Gum disease can also cause blood sugar levels to increase and have a negative impact for diabetics. There are also other oral hygiene concerns that increase with diabetes, such as thrush, dry mouth, ulcers, infections, and cavities.
What can I do to prevent these concerns if I have diabetes?
It is important to remember that just because you have diabetes or are at risk of having diabetes, this doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to have increased dental problems. There are many preventative measures you can take to protect the state of your teeth if you have diabetes, for example:
- Control blood sugar levels
- Regularly brush and floss your teeth, and clean your teeth
- Have a regular check up at the dentist every six months
- Avoid smoking
- Control your diet
What else can I do?
If you have diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes, it is very important to tell your dentist during your routine check ups. If your dentist or oral hygienist is aware of your health condition, they can give you better advice and practical tips on how to care for your teeth as well as your diabetes, and might refer you to a periodontist. Your dentist or dental hygienist also needs to be aware of any medication you are taking to treat your diabetes as this can impact on the treatments they are able to give you and procedures they can do. Staying aware and informed with all your health professionals is the best thing you can do to take care of your health.
What is a Periodontist?
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease, and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists are also experts in the treatment of oral inflammation. Periodontists receive extensive training in these areas, including three additional years of education beyond dental school. They are familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease, and are also trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures.
Periodontists often treat more problematic periodontal cases, such as those with severe gum disease or a complex medical history. Periodontists offer a wide range of treatments, such as scaling and root planing (in which the infected surface of the root is cleaned) or root surface debridement (in which damaged tissue is removed). They can also treat patients with severe gum problems using a range of surgical procedures. In addition, periodontists are specially trained in the placement, maintenance, and repair of dental implants.
At Morris Park Dental, we have all specialists under one roof, including a dual board certified periodontist and prosthodontist Dr. Yung Kim! Dr. Kim is one of only four dentists in the country who has both board certifications, which means he is a specialist in gum disease as well as dental implants. Click here to read more about our periodontist, Dr. Yung Kim.
Call us today at (718) DR-SMILE (718-377-6453) to schedule a consultation today with our periodontist or click here to request an appointment online!