We all know that diabetes affects your body’s ability to process sugar.  All the food you eat is turned to sugar and used for energy. In Type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough insulin to carry the sugar from your blood to the cells that need it for energy.  In Type 2 diabetes, the body stops responding to insulin.  Both result in high blood sugar which can cause problems with your eyes, kidney, heart and other parts of your body.  So, what does this have to do with your dentist?

*Symptoms of untreated diabetes –

The warning signs of diabetes can affect every part of your body, including your mouth.  You may experience any of the following:

-excessively thirsty

-need to urinate frequently

-dry mouth (less saliva puts you at a higher risk for cavities)

-Inflamed gums, bleeding (gingivitis)

-cavities

-problems tasting food

-infections inside your mouth

*Why are diabetics more prone to gum disease?

Periodontal disease (gum disease) is the most common dental disease affecting those living with diabetes. Especially for those increasing in age, poor blood sugar control increases the risk for gum problems.  As with all infections, serious gum disease may cause blood sugar to rise. This makes diabetes harder to control because you are more susceptible to infections and are less able to fight the bacteria invading the gums. If you notice any signs of gum disease make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

*What can I do to stop tooth decay?

The most basic thing you can do is remove plaque by brushing at least twice a day, and floss between your teeth once daily.  Drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy diet can help too.  However, for a diabetic it is important that you visit your dentist regularly to have your teeth checked and cleaned.  Keeping your individual circumstance in mind, your dentist can advise you on the right frequency for you.

Almost 1/4 of people with diabetes don’t even know they have it.  Your dentist can play an important role in detecting diseases in your body during a checkup.   Keeping regular appointments can help you keep on top of your health for your entire body.  Learn more about exploring and lowering your risk for developing diabetes at www.diabetes.org.

*Sources – www.cda-adc.ca

                – www.diabetes.org

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