Thursday, March 27, 2014

Diabetes and the Dentist

With all the appointments that Silent Sam was told to make when he was diagnosed with diabetes, somehow I missed that he was supposed to make sure that the dentist was on the list. We do go to the dentist faithfully every six months. It could be said that appointment with the dentist is the only doctor’s appointment that I faithfully keep…

Anyway, I read something lately about diabetes and the need to go to the dentist regularly and I was surprised.  I understand the other specialists that are important to diabetics but I had not seen anything before about the dentist. I wondered why the dentist was important. 

How diabetes can affect your mouth

It seems that when a person’s blood sugar levels are not under control, there are several things that can happen in your mouth. The first problem is dry mouth. Dry mouth can happen due to the salivary glands being affected by the diabetes or from medicine. While dry mouth by itself can be uncomfortable, it can lead to sores being formed in the mouth. The sores can be hard to heal due to poor blood sugar control. Then if there is not saliva in the mouth to rinse off the teeth, gingivitis can form and advance to periodontal disease (gum disease.) Once again, the healing can be slowed because of the diabetes. 

Also, the antibiotics that are taken to cure the diabetic from infections can then cause thrush to form in the mouth. Thrush is a fungal infection the can be started by the antibiotics but can thrive on the high concentration of sugar in the saliva.

How discouraging! 

5 dental practices you should start now

1.        As with all things diabetes, controlling your blood sugar is the most important. It is truly the key to keeping your health. 

2.       Brush your teeth at least twice a day. It would be even better if you brushed after every meal.

3.       Use floss daily to keep your gums healthy.

4.       Go to the dentist twice a year. When you go, make sure the dentist is aware that you are diabetic.  Keep the dentist up on your current medications. Make sure that the dentist knows the name and phone number for your primary care physician.  

5.       Check your gums regularly. Make sure they are not red and swollen. Tell the dentist if you have dry mouth, mouth pain, or bleeding gums. 

As with anything relating to diabetes, if you smoke, please stop. I know it is hard but take advantage of the many things that can help you stop. 

Thanks for reading!

As you know, I am not a doctor.  If you have any questions, please see your doctor or dentist and talk to them.  

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