According to Diabetes Canada, the estimated prevalence of diabetes in the country in 2015 is 3.4 million or 9.3 percent. This figure is set to reach 5 million or 12.1 percent by 2025.
Diabetes can affect anyone across ages and from all walks of life. When someone has diabetes, their ability to process sugar is impaired. Their blood glucose or blood sugar goes beyond normal levels. Blood glucose powers the body and it comes from the food we eat.
A hormone called insulin helps sugar reach our cells. When there is not enough insulin, glucose also doesn’t get delivered to our cells. This, in turn, can cause health issues.
What Happens if Diabetes Goes Untreated?
When you have diabetes, you may also experience reduced saliva and dry mouth. Saliva helps keep your teeth moist, break down food, and wash away food debris on your teeth. With less saliva, you may also be more vulnerable to developing cavities and infections.
Diabetes can also make people more susceptible to gum disease. This can be due to impaired blood sugar control, the increase in bacteria in your mouth and decreased ability to fight them. And when you have periodontal disease, this can also cause your diabetes to progress.
Preventing Oral Health Problems if You Have Diabetes
Taking good care of your health is crucial to prevent diabetes from advancing and keep oral health problems at bay. Here are things you can do.
- Control your blood glucose levels. Coordinate closely with your doctor. Always take your medications as instructed. Watch your diet and do incorporate exercises into your daily habits.
- Keep your teeth and gums clean. Spend at least 2 minutes, twice a day when brushing. Follow it up with flossing so areas that your brush can’t reach can still be cleaned. If you are out and won’t be able to brush or floss, at least drink water to help flush down food debris.
- Increase your water intake. Drinking more water and avoiding sugary drinks can help a lot in keeping your mouth moist.
- Avoid smoking. And if you are currently are, take steps to finally stop. Smoking is dangerous not only to your teeth and mouth but for your overall health as well.
- Clean your dentures regularly. If you are already using dentures, be sure to keep them clean. If you have any concerns about oral devices you’re using, let your dentist know immediately.
- Ensure regular dental visits. Have deep cleanings done every 6 months or more if recommended by your dentist. Even though you brush and floss regularly, it’s possible for harmful bacteria to still be present in your mouth. By keeping up with your dentist appointments, any oral health issues can be detected before they develop further and hence prevent them from becoming serious health problems
Letting Your Dentist Know About Your Diabetes
Preventing oral health problems when you have diabetes involves teamwork between you and your dental team. If you have diabetes, don’t be shy about letting your dentist and hygienist know. You will have special needs and your dental team needs to be able to accommodate them.
If you feel any changes in your condition, or should your doctor advise you of any issues, always update your dentist. If you have dental procedures scheduled, they may have to be postponed if there are issues with your blood glucose levels.
Rundle Dental offers complete care for kids to adults. And if you have diabetes, we would love to work with you to ensure you can continue to keep your smile and body healthy.