Diagnosed With Diabetes? What You Should Know About Your Dental Health

When you are first diagnosed with diabetes, there is a lot to worry about. You have to get used to monitoring your diet, testing your blood sugar, and perhaps injecting yourself with insulin when needed. In all of the mayhem, it can be easy to overlook another important aspect of your health that is affected by your condition: your dental health. Here's a look at how diabetes affects your dental health and what steps you can take to minimize those effects.

Dental Problems in Diabetics

Diabetes can increase your risk of gum disease and dental caries (cavities). It also increases your chances of developing dental abscesses. This occurs for a number of reasons. First, diabetes reduces the circulation to your body's tissues, and impeded circulation can affect your body's ability to regulate the bacteria that cause gum disease, dental caries and dental abscesses. Second, diabetes slows wound healing, meaning that any tiny sores that develop in the mouth linger for longer and are more likely to become inhabited by bacteria that can cause these larger issues down the road.

Diabetes also slows down the production of saliva. Since saliva plays a role in coating the teeth and protecting them from cavities, as a diabetic, you are at an increased risk of developing cavities -- and if the cavities are left untreated – more serious tooth decay.

Keeping Your Mouth Healthy

Keeping your blood sugar carefully regulated will go a long way towards reducing your chances of dental problems related to diabetes. If you are getting frequent high blood sugar readings in spite of following your doctor's instructions regarding diet and medication, let your doctor know. He or she can work with you to devise a better management protocol rather so you don't suffer the consequences down the road.

You also have to be very vigilant about your dental hygiene as a diabetic. Set a timer so you can make sure you're brushing your teeth for the full recommended 2 minutes twice per day. Keep floss in your car so you can use it on your way to work should you forget to do so before leaving. You can also talk to your dental hygienist about increasing the frequency of your professional cleanings. Having your teeth cleaned by your hygienists 4 times per year, instead of once or twice, will help reduce your risk of gingivitis and cavities.

If you do notice that you seem to be developing a lot of cavities or gum issues after being diagnosed as a diabetic, bring this up to your dentist and your doctor. The two of them may be able to work together to devise a better treatment plan to help you avoid these effects. Contact a professional such as Picone Dental - Vincent J Picone DDS for more information.