Dr. Agatha Bis, Oakville Holistic and Cosmetic Dentist, recognizes Diabetes Month and shares her thoughts on the connection between diabetes and dental health.
It’s time that we look at an issue that, we hope, millions of Canadians living with diabetes already know. There is a direct correlation between diabetes and periodontal (gum) disease.
Research from Diabetes Canada shows that more than 11 million Canadians are living with diabetes or prediabetes, with another 1.5 million Canadians living with type 2 diabetes and don’t even know it. Dentists have long understood the connection between diabetes and oral health and can provide solutions for those living with diabetes to help avoid or prolong any negative impact on their dental health.
The Connection Between Diabetes and Dental Health
In addition to the host of complications those with diabetes deal with on a daily basis, there is an increased risk for certain oral diseases, such as:
- Tooth Decay. Your mouth naturally contains many types of bacteria, but when those bacteria feed on the starches and sugars prevalent in our diets, a sticky film known as plaque forms on the teeth. The acids in plaque attack the surfaces of your teeth, specifically the enamel and dentin, which can lead to cavities and gum disease. The real problem is that the higher your blood sugar, the more destructive the starch and sugars become. Blood sugar level management is key.
- Gingivitis. As mentioned above, diabetes reduces your body’s natural ability to fight bacteria. If left to fester in your mouth, bacteria claims space within the gums causing irritation.
Periodontitis. The next stage of gingivitis is periodontitis. So we not only have to worry about inflammation and irritation, but the impact the decay has on the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth. If left untreated, periodontitis causes your gums and jawbone to pull away from your teeth, causing loose teeth and eventual loss. Periodontitis, while detrimental to anyone, tends to be more severe among those living with diabetes because diabetes lowers the ability to resist infection and slows healing.
- Thrush. People with diabetes may be more likely to develop thrush, which is a fungal infection in the mouth. Signs of thrush include painful white or red patches inside your mouth and are more prominent in those with diabetes given their reduced ability to fight infection.
- Dry mouth. Certain medications have been known to can cause dry mouth. A result of a lack of saliva, important in naturally combatting bacteria puts Canadians at risk for tooth decay, gum disease and thrush. Regular brushing and water can help keep the mouth hydrated and combat dry mouth symptoms, but there is no cure.
Bottom Line: A Proactive Approach Can Limit the Impact on Dental Health
With regular visits to your dentist and a strong commitment to diligent dental care, many Canadians manage to prevent or prolong the impact of diabetes on their oral health. Be aware. Look for early signs of gum disease and share those findings and concerns with Dr. Agatha Bis and her team. You’ll want to look for redness, swelling, bleeding gums, loose teeth and mouth pain. However, the most important step you can take is to commit to monitoring blood sugar levels and following instruction on keeping blood sugar levels within the target range.
With a commitment to continuing education, Dr. Bis is at the forefront of holistic dentistry and values a collaborative approach with her patients. If you would like to learn more about our approach to family holistic dental care and/or cosmetic dentistry in Oakville; or have a question about your specific situation, get in touch with Oakville Dentist, Dr. Agatha Bis and her team by calling 905.338.6684 or by completing the form below.