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Did you know that nearly 30 million Americans suffer from diabetes? Diabetes decreases the body’s ability to control the blood sugar level and, similarly to other illnesses, can increase susceptibility to other infections and complications. The most commonly known complications from diabetes are heart disease, stroke, and kidney damage - but, more recent studies have shown a connection between diabetes and periodontal (gum) disease.
With increased susceptibility, the rate at which the infection worsens can also be affected. For example, periodontal disease is broken up into various stages; from gingivitis (the beginning of infection) to periodontitis (the most advanced cases). If your body is having a difficult time fighting the infection, it could quickly progress.
The connection between diabetes and periodontal disease is often referred to as a “two-way street.” Those that have diabetes are at an increased risk for periodontal disease and vice versa - especially if either condition isn’t properly controlled.
Here’s how it works:
With diabetes, the uncontrolled blood sugar affects insulin production - which, in turn, keeps your body from producing energy from carbohydrates and sugars (glucose). A common complication from the lack of blood circulation is reduced saliva production, resulting in dry mouth (or halitosis). Without saliva, the mouth becomes the perfect environment for bacteria (such as plaque) growth.
Fighting Periodontal Disease Alongside Diabetes
Unfortunately, your oral health directly impacts your overall health. An oral infection causes an inflammatory response that can then radiate throughout the entire body. With diabetes, this is especially dangerous. An inflammatory response could increase the risk for other health complications, but prioritizing your oral care can help to minimize bacteria and infection.
Protecting your blood sugar while preventing infection:
The key word here is; control. As long as you’re able to keep your blood sugar levels under control, practicing preventive dentistry will keep the bacteria at bay.
What is preventive dentistry? A combination of three things: regular dental checkups, excellent oral hygiene at home, and maintaining a healthy diet. Each of these things will help minimize the amount of bacteria within your mouth, keeping it from building up and eliminating the chance for infection.
Regular dental checkups are typically scheduled twice each year, but could be more often depending on the individual.
Properly brushing and flossing every day is critical to maintaining your oral health. In most cases, teeth should be brushed at least twice each day and flossed (at least) once. If you’re prone to bacteria growth, your dentist may make certain recommendations to help prevent or minimize infection.
Sticking to a healthy diet that avoids sugars and starches. Incorporating whole grains, lean protein, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and lots of water every day will keep your body nourished and strong.
Don’t be afraid to discuss other aspects of your health with your dentist - especially when it comes to diabetes. With the proper dental care and treatment, you can optimize your oral health and decrease any potential associated health risks. Contact San Antonio Periodontics & Implants and we will help to inform you on more key information about your oral health!
Our professional and gentle treatment of gum disease, cosmetic procedures and dental implants is personalized.