Connecting the Dots: Diabetes & Oral Health

Diabetes, or hypertension is a disease that affects millions of people from various social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds. In 2017, 7.3% of Canadians aged 12 and older (roughly 2.3 million people) reported being diagnosed with diabetes.

It is safe practice for those diagnosed with diabetes to monitor glucose levels, diet, activity, and more to keep them healthy. But did you know that those with diabetes are at higher risk for periodontal disease? That’s why those with diabetes need to ensure a good daily oral health routine and visit the dentist at least twice a year. Read on to learn more about diabetes and oral health.

Diabetes Effect on the Mouth

Individuals living with diabetes, especially type 2, are at a higher risk for developing periodontal disease, which is gum disease in its most advanced stages. At the chronic periodontal disease stage, a person can experience loss of tissue and bone that support the teeth. As a result, teeth become loose and begin moving freely. Periodontal disease can lead to issues such as pain when chewing, bad breath, and most seriously, tooth loss. Periodontal disease may also make it hard to control your blood glucose.

Specific medications for diabetes may also put a patient at risk for tooth and gum decay. Additional factors such as poor home care are linked to diabetes as well. In some cases, those with diabetes may have to postpone dental treatment to ensure their blood glucose levels are stable enough for the procedure. It’s always best to check with a physician beforehand to ensure your safety.

Dental Tips for Those with Diabetes

There are a variety of ways to maintain a healthy mouth if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes. You should first seek the help of a dental provider to establish a routine that works best for your individual situation.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Monitor your sugar intake, as food and drink high in sugar can contribute to dental caries and periodontal disease.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day.
  • See your dentist twice a year for routine exams and be sure to share your full medical history so they can determine the best care plan for you.
  • Inform your provider if your dentures aren’t fitting like they used to; this may be a sign of periodontal disease forming due to diabetes.
  • If you’re a smoker, work toward quitting, as smoking can worsen periodontal disease.

Periodontal Disease & Diabetes

There is also evidence that periodontal disease may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and that having diabetes can worsen periodontal disease. Medications used for diabetes such as Metformin can cause changes to the oral cavity, such as xerostomia, candidiasis, and can potentially increase periodontal disease and decay. Overall, maintaining good oral health can help prevent other health issues from developing over time.

If you reside in the St. Catherines area, and you or a loved one has diabetes, don’t hesitate to give Dr. Vlahos a call at (905) 937-4673 to have a conversation about actively maintaining a good oral health and hygiene routine to keep you as healthy as possible!