Diabetes and Your Oral Health
By: Dr. Katherine Schrubbe
Over 29 million Americans have diabetes...that’s over 9% of our population. These millions of people find ways to live with their symptoms and complications every day, including an increased risk of oral health issues. November is American Diabetes Month, but at Dental Associates we focus extra attention on our patients with diabetes throughout the entire year. Therefore, we’d like to take this opportunity to help you understand how diabetes affects your oral health, and also let you know how Dental Associates’ dentists help those with diabetes to effectively manage the disease.
What is Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. Those with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance, in which their bodies do not use insulin properly. Though their bodies try to produce extra insulin to make up for the deficiency, over time they are not able to keep up and cannot regulate their insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store glucose for future use. Insulin helps keeps your blood sugar level from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).
How Does Diabetes Affect Oral Health?
Diabetes affects your mouth in a few ways:
- Diabetes weakens the gums. If there’s too much glucose in a person’s system, blood vessels can’t function properly. Since your mouth has millions of bacteria in it, those with diabetes can’t properly fight the bacteria, thus the gums will weaken and develop disease faster.
- Diabetes can lead to periodontal disease. Because blood vessels are impaired, the flow of nutrients and removal of body wastes are impaired and this will weaken the gums and bone making them more susceptible to infection; those with diabetes are at higher risk for periodontal disease.
In short, if you have elevated levels of sugar, the bacteria in your mouth will thrive on that and begin to breakdown the teeth and gums more quickly.
What We Do to Help Patients with Diabetes
Our dentists are experienced in helping patients with diabetes. They might recommend additional cleanings (learn more below), and will also teach you how to brush and how to floss properly to make sure you’re reducing the levels of bacteria in your mouth as much as possible. So in addition to the extra cleanings every year, we want to give you the tools you need to help keep your mouth healthy all the time.
Evidence-Based Integrated Care Plans
We want to make sure that we help patients with diabetes have the best oral health possible. That’s why we offer evidence-based integrated care plans. With an understanding of the science and relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease, we can help you better maintain your oral health, better control your diabetes, and overall general health.
Overall, we know that if we can improve your oral health, we can help control your diabetes as well.
Additional Dental Coverage for Patients with Diabetes
If you have diabetes and you think you may need additional cleanings to improve your oral health, check with your insurance plan to see if you have that benefit in your dental plan. Many dental plans have benefits for evidence-based integrated care plans.
Our providers are aware of evidence-based integrated care plans. One such care plan is available through CarePlus Dental Plans. If you have certain systemic conditions including diabetes, CarePlus has a benefit for additional dental care. Since Dental Associates is the exclusive provider for CarePlus dental insurance, you would enjoy the benefits of evidence-based integrated care plans. Learn more about CarePlus dental insurance.
Ensuring good oral health starts with recognizing that there is a strong connection between the body and mouth. Having diabetes and ensuring good oral health is a two-way street: your periodontal health can affect your diabetes, and your diabetes can affect your periodontal health. As a patient of Dental Associates, your provider will pay very close attention to your medical history to ensure that we’re giving you the best care possible related to any systemic issues you have. Please talk to your Dental Associates dentist to learn more about the complete care we can provide you.