Diabetes and Dental Health

Diabetes affects nearly 10% of the population in the United States. This disease changes a person’s life in so many ways. Since diabetes alters the body’s ability to process sugar, it changes how you feel and how you interact with food on a daily basis, and it can also affect  your oral health. Below, Flintlock Dental will take a closer look at some of the oral health issues that can arise as a result of diabetes.

Diabetes and Gum Disease

There’s a connection between diabetes and gum disease. Around 20% of diabetes patients suffer from some type of gum disease, such as gingivitis or periodontal disease. In fact, if you have diabetes, you are 4 times more likely to develop gum disease in your lifetime. If you struggle to control your sugar levels, this places you at an even higher risk. Even more troubling is that the link between the two problems can go both ways. Some research has shown that having gum disease can actually affect your ability to control stable blood glucose levels.

Gum disease occurs when bacteria infects the gum line, which can inflame the gums and cause damage to the surrounding soft tissues and bone in your mouth. Leaving gum disease untreated can lead to even more oral health problems down the line. You might experience symptoms that range from bad breath to bleeding gums and even tooth loss. Even worse, tooth decay has been linked to severe health problems such as heart disease and stroke. Having diabetes on top of oral health issues can also slow the healing process of gum disease. All of these problems mean that you should get your mouth checked regularly to make sure that your gums are healthy and heal properly, should you develop gum disease.

Diabetes and Dental Implants

Dental implants and bridges are common procedures for those who have lost several teeth. With the link between diabetes and gum disease, it’s possible that you may need dental implants at some point if you have diabetes and are prone to gum disease. However, there can be further issues with a diabetic patient’s ability to have this type of implant installed, based on the overall health of the surrounding gums.

If you have diabetes and are looking to install some dental implants, you need to set up a plan with your dentist to ensure that your gums are healthy enough to handle them. If your gums are healthy enough, you also need to make sure that your blood sugar is under control. Once those two factors are in good shape and you do get some dental implants, you will need to be monitored closely by your dentist. This is due to the fact that healing times are longer and risks for infection are higher for people with diabetes. Take care to make sure that your blood sugar levels stay in a good place and that you keep all follow-up appointments with your dentist after having implants installed, so you can keep your gums healthy and speed up the healing process.

Diabetes and Other Dental Issues

Along with gingivitis and the more severe periodontal gum disease, there are some other oral health issues to be aware of if you have diabetes:

Cavities – The sugars in food and drink attach to your gums and teeth, causing a layer of plaque to form. If you have diabetes and a higher blood sugar level, you are more likely to have a higher content of sugar in your mouth. This can lead to more microbes wearing away at your teeth and ultimately create more cavities.

Dry Mouth – Some patients with diabetes experience a lower level of saliva production, which can lead to dry mouth. Without saliva to help wash your mouth out and keep the pH balanced, you are more prone to developing cavities and gum disease.

Thrush – This is a fungal infection that’s caused by an excess of yeast growing in the mouth. Making sure you have good oral hygiene habits can help prevent thrush, and your dentist can help you treat it if it becomes a problem.

Protecting Your Oral Health with Diabetes

If you have diabetes, you should let your dentist know, so they can monitor your oral health very closely. You will also want to inform your physician if you do have any oral health issues. Letting both your dentist and physician know of any potential problems can help them work together in making sure your overall health and oral health are in good shape. Keeping good control over your blood sugar levels is one of the best things you can do for your mouth, along with your body.

Patients with diabetes need to be even more on top of keeping up with regular visits to the dentist, including those routine cleanings every six months. By doing this, you and your dentist can stay on top of your oral health and catch any early signs of gum disease or other health issue going on, whether or not it’s due to your diabetes. When it comes to dental health, it’s much better to solve problems early, so you can avoid the pain and stress that comes along with complications that develop over time.

Dr. Wolfgang Schaller

Dr. Wolfgang Schaller was born in Germany, but he moved to Kansas City, Missouri in 1975 and has been here ever since. He loves this area! After graduating from Rockhurst High School, he went on to pursue extensive higher education. Dr. Schaller really values continuing education and training because that’s how he is able to be the most qualified that he can to care for you and your family’s dental needs!

Dr. Schaller completed his undergraduate studies at Kansas State University. He then obtained both an MS degree in biochemistry and his DDS degree at the University of Iowa. Dr. Schaller has worked as a DDS in a group office in Kansas and a solo practitioner in Independence for almost 10 years.

Studying at the University of Iowa was a great experience not only for education, but that’s also where Dr. Schaller met his wonderful wife, Monika. They moved to theNorthland area of Kansas City after graduation, where they now live with their two beautiful daughters, Natalie and Gabrielle. Monika Schaller works at North Kansas City Hospital as an oncology pharmacist.

In addition to dentistry and spending time with his family, Dr. Schaller’s other interests include gardening and photography. He looks forward to getting to know you and your family, too!