As a diabetic, you are constantly measuring and regulating your body's blood sugar levels to keep them at a healthy level. Along with regulating your blood sugars, you also need to watch for any signs of infections or problems with your teeth and gums. Here are three reasons you need to take extra care of your teeth and gums if you are diabetic.
Slow Healing of Infections
As a diabetic, you may already be aware of the differences in your body from that of a non-diabetic. Whenever you are sick or fighting an infection, your body takes longer to fight off the infection and heal itself. Infections in your gums and mouth will also take longer to heal.
Because your body's resistance to fight infection is lower as a diabetic, it is important to visit your dentist at least twice a year for a cleaning and checkup. If you don't remove all the plaque from your teeth by brushing and flossing, the plaque will harden into tartar, irritating your gums and causing an infection of periodontal disease.
A periodontal infection in your gums that is slow to heal can eventually get into your blood and travel to other areas of your body. You can even get an infection in your heart's lining transferred from the infection in your gums. This infection in the lining of your heart is known as endocarditis and can cause permanent damage to your heart valves. As the heart valves are damaged, the condition leads to heart failure, as they cannot properly pump blood through themselves.
Bacteria in your heart's valves has the potential to break off, creating blood clots that travel through your blood stream. When one of these blood clots gets stuck, they will cause a blockage, starving the tissues of the needed oxygen and nutrients.
By going to your dentist twice a year, they can scrape off any tartar buildup on your teeth. Remind your dentist you are diabetic at each appointment so they can look for and treat any signs of gingivitis and infection in your gums.
Higher Blood Sugars
When you have infected gums from tartar buildup, the infection can cause your blood sugar levels to increase. When your blood sugar levels increase, it will be harder for you to lower them with insulin or medication because your body is already fighting an infection. Having gum disease can make your diabetes worse and harder to control. Then, your high blood sugar levels can cause damage to your eyes, nerves, and kidneys.
Having high sugar levels can lead to tooth decay. When you are diabetic with blood sugar levels that are unregulated and high, this allows more sugar to remain in your blood. When your blood sugar levels are high, you will also have high levels of sugar in your saliva. Glucose-saturated saliva will feed any plaque on your teeth, allowing it to grow and release acids that decay your teeth.
Because you are at a higher risk of developing gingivitis and periodontal disease, you are at a higher risk to lose your teeth. As you get an infection along your gum line that is slower to heal, your teeth can become loose and fall out.
If you end up needing dentures to replace your lost teeth, the dentures can rub against your gums, causing sores that will be slow to heal from your diabetes.
To combat tooth loss, brush your teeth twice a day with a soft bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste. Also, floss your teeth and use a fluoride mouthwash rinse for extra protection. The fluoride in the toothpaste and the fluoride mouth rinse will help protect your teeth from plaque, sugars, and bacteria, and can help remineralize the enamel on your teeth.
It is important to properly care for your teeth and gums, especially if you are diabetic.
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