Diabetes and Your Dental Health
The effects of diabetes on dental health can be effectively managed if they are understood. Armed with this understanding, basic preventive measures can maintain a healthy mouth.
Diabetes does not have a direct impact on the health of the mouth. Difficulties can arise from secondary issues that occur with a diabetic person.
There tends to be a higher concentration of sugar in the saliva of the diabetic. This added sugar in the mouth feeds the bacteria that live in the organized colonies we call plaque. Sugar fed bacteria give off toxic, acidic wastes that can etch and dissolve the hard surface of tooth enamel. This leads to penetration of the enamel and tooth decay. Once the outer layer of enamel is broken down, the bacteria invade more deeply into the tooth, burrowing and destroying tooth structure as they go.
There are three preventive steps that can be taken to stop this process.
- Fluoride in your daily toothpaste, mouth rinses, and in prescribed professional applications.
- Effective daily removal of that bacterial film we call plaque, using floss and brush.
- Regular dental checkups by caring professionals.
Diabetes can also have an impact on the health of your gums and other supporting tissues. Because diabetes can impair the healing process, the gums become more vulnerable to the irritating effects of the toxins given off by the bacteria in plaque. This irritation causes the skin cells covering the gums to break down. If this process is allowed to continue, the skin is broken and the gums start to bleed. Once blood starts coming out, bacteria can get in. This leads to more inflammation and breakdown of the tissue. If left unchecked, this process can destroy the firm connection of the tooth to the underlying bone, eventually leading to the possibility of tooth loss.
Preventive measures for protecting the health of your gums is much the same as keeping your teeth healthy:
- Maintain control of your diabetes by following the directions of your physician.
- Effective, daily plaque control including proper flossing and brushing.
- Have regular dental checkups by caring professionals.
There is reason to be optimistic. With understanding and effective habits, the effects of diabetes on your teeth and gums can be controlled.
The Doctors at Denmark Dental