Diabetes and Teeth – 4 Steps in Preventing Disease

In a study done in 2011 only 58 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes visit a dentist regularly (Elangovan, et al, 2014). This presents a problem because complications from having diabetes is one of the worst issues related to gum and teeth decay. According to Phillips, et al (2008) here are some of the issues with your teeth and gums related to diabetes:

  • After age 40 vascular disease begins to accelerate, affecting the fine vessels that supply your teeth as well as the rest of your body.
  • Lack of saliva due to high glucose levels prevents the washing away of debris and bacteria, causing dry mouth and disease.
  • High glucose levels also cause your immune system to weaken which also prevents your body to fight mouth disease and cause caries, periodontal disease, and dental and periodontal destruction and infection.

Going unchecked, these issues can require root canals, tooth extractions, and urgent surgical extraction of pus.

Diseases described above are very preventable is you see a dentist regularly, and brush and floss often. Going unchecked can cause inflammation with then causes the gums to deteriorate. And if you think tooth loss is just cosmetic, think again. In diabetes, tooth loss means you cannot eat harder fruits and vegetables. That means eating softer food that generally are not good for controlling glucose levels.

Below are a few steps you can take to prevent gum disease and tooth loss.

  1. If you are not seeing a dentist, make an appointment now. Because the development of poor gums and teeth is gradual catching issues early will prevent a lot of headache later. Don’t procrastinate!
  2. Once you have seen a dentist he will set up a schedule for you to have your teeth cleaned and checked. A hygienist cleans my teeth, takes x-rays, and tests my gums for deterioration. Then the dentist reviews the results and takes a good look at my gums and teeth.
  3. Don’t miss the appointments. I see my dentist twice a year and that seems to be working for me. But don’t be surprised if your dentist wants to see you more than that.
  4. Make sure your dentist sends your results to your physician. Your physician can go over the results with you to help you control your diabetes.

 

References:

Phillips, Patrick J, MBBS, MA(Oxon),F.R.A.C.P., M.R.A.C.M.A., & Bartold, Mark, BDS, BDSDent(Hons),PhD., D.D.Sc,. (2008). Dental problems in diabetes: Add a dentist to the diabetes team. Australian Family Physician, 37(7), 537-9. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/216308684?accountid=458

Satheesh Elangovan, BDS, ScD, DMSc, Ruth Hertzman-Miller, MD, MPH, Nadeem Karimbux, DMD, MMSc, and Donald Giddon, DMD, PhD, (2014). A Framework for Physician-Dentist Collaboration in Diabetes and Periodontitis. Practical Pointers, 32(4), 188-192. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com

4 thoughts on “Diabetes and Teeth – 4 Steps in Preventing Disease

  1. Wow, what a great guide. I like how you said that we should make an appointment “now”, because we just don’t know when we will need one, and it might be too late when we eventually do. This is such a simple step but it is also overlooked, by a LOT of people. Also, being consistent in your dentist appointments was another step I liked. There’s no point in going every few years, because that’s not the way to take care of your body.

    Cheers!

  2. My father has diabetes and to this date, I was never aware that he is troubled by dental problems because of this, I thought it was totally unrelated. I don’t know if he knows it or not, but thanks to your post I learned about this and I am definitely going to share this link with him.

  3. I think in general people are not good about going to the dentist. I did not realize how important it was for people with diabetes. I am going to share this with my father in law, thanks for putting this information together.

  4. Hillard,
    I am a dental hygienist myself, and there is so much truth to this. If you have diabetes, it is incredibly important to get regularly cleanings. Some of my diabetic patients come in for cleanings every 3 months vs. 6 months. Bacterial plaque and calculus can get worse and so much quicker, which can lead to more rapidly developing periodontal disease. All the while, this takes a direct effect on worsening the diabetes. These 2 things are most definitely interrelated. Great information that needs to be shared… Thanks!

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