The Impact Of Diabetes On Your Oral Health

Chelmsford dentist, Dr Harminder Sehmi, explains why this common disease can have a negative impact on your teeth and gums

Dentist Harminder SehmiThere are now somewhere in the region of 4 million people in the UK who have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Some of these will be controlling it through a stricter dietary regime, whilst others will require medication to prevent it from becoming more serious and harmful to their health.

Diabetes can have a major impact on your teeth and gums as well, and in today’s blog, we are going to take a look at its potential effect and the role, if you are diagnosed, that you can play to help yourself maintain a healthy mouth.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a long lasting illness that affects the way that our bodies convert the food that we eat into the energy that we need. As we eat, most of the food is turned into sugar which enters into our bloodstream. As sugar levels rise, this triggers the pancreas to release insulin which then allows the sugar to be released for use as energy. In those who are diabetic, there is either insufficient insulin or it is not released as it should be. This then causes too much sugar to remain in the bloodstream which, over time, can lead to serious health conditions including heart and kidney disease and can also result in gradual sight loss as well.

How does diabetes affect teeth and gums?

Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, your oral health can suffer as a result and you will need to be more vigilant about your overall oral care regimen.  As your blood sugar levels rise, there is likely also to be higher sugar levels in your saliva. As we well know, any form of sugar is harmful to teeth and as saliva is largely ever present, this means that your teeth and gums will be in contact with it for very long periods of time.

Diabetes sufferers are also more prone to having a dry mouth. As you will know from other Blue Sky Dental blogs that we have written about gum disease, this is a major problem and one which enables the bacteria in your mouth to thrive and grow in numbers. This can lead initially to gingivitis, and more seriously, periodontitis which may, if not treated and kept under control, ultimately lead to tooth loss.

What you can do to help keep your mouth healthy

Most importantly, you should do what you can to keep your diabetes under control as this will also help to reduce saliva sugar levels too. This, of course, means following the medical advice that you are given by your doctor and taking any medication prescribed. From a dental point of view, the key thing is to be aware of the risks to your teeth and gums and to take action to maintain their health. Although regular cleaning is important for all of our Chelmsford patients, it is increasingly so for those with diabetes.

Make sure that you take time to brush and floss your teeth well twice a day and do so correctly. A quick brushing will not be enough and you need to pay additional attention when you clean your teeth. Don’t skip the flossing either. This is essential to help manage the gum  disease that you will be at a higher risk of.

Finally, if you don’t already, make sure to keep regular appointments with our Chelmsford dental hygienist.  This is essential for monitoring your gum health and to ensure that you have them thoroughly cleaned to remove any built up tartar. Whilst most patients will have this done every six months, it is possible that, as a diabetic, you will need to have this done more frequently, with some doing so every three months.

Treatments for diabetes related dental problems

The scale and polish procedure that you have at the dental hygienist is a very important one and one that will help to minimise your chances of having gum disease and will also help to control it where it already exists.

Where damage has already occurred, and where the later stage of gum disease, known as periodontitis, has taken hold, a more invasive procedure will be needed to try to prevent eventual tooth loss. This treatment, known as root planing, root scaling or more commonly, a deep clean, is not carried out by the hygienist as it requires skills that only a suitably qualified dentist can provide. It is an invasive treatment that not only removes tartar and bacteria above the gum line but below it too. This means that the roots of the teeth and often the surrounding bone, have to be cleaned. Understandably, this procedure is carried out using a local anaesthetic to minimise the discomfort.

It should be noted that there is no guarantee of success with this treatment and tooth loss is still possible. It is far far better to put that extra effort into maintaining as healthy a mouth as possible and hopefully avoiding the need for this treatment.

If you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes or have had it for sometime but not been aware of its effect on your oral health, we are always happy to discuss this with you and offer advice and any treatment needed to help you maintain healthy teeth and gums.

If you would like to talk to us about your diabetes in relation to oral health, you can make an appointment by calling Blue Sky Dental on 01245 211070.

Leave a Reply