Diabetes and Your Oral Health

Dental considerations for diabetic patients in Woking

Dentist examines patientIt is important for all of us to look after our teeth and gums well. Damaging them can have a significantly negative impact on our quality of life and can cause problems with eating and even our speech in some cases.

Gum diseases are also increasingly being linked to health issues such as heart disease. For most of us, looking after our teeth is a relatively straightforward issue. We brush and floss our teeth well and see a dentist at Synergy Parkside every six months for a check up.

There are some groups of people, however, who are at a higher risk of oral health problems than others. These include older people and cigarette smokers amongst others. One of the most common health conditions that can lead to more problems is diabetes.

Diabetes

Diabetes causes blood sugar level problems in the body and can lead to damage to the heart, kidneys, feet and eyes. In addition to this, high blood sugar levels can cause damage to the blood vessels which subsequently reduces the amount of oxygen supplied to the gums. Because of this, our Woking patients who are diabetic are typically at a higher risk of gum disease than non diabetics.

Due to this increased risk, it is important that diabetics not only follow their GPs advice and take any necessary medication to keep the diabetes under control, but also pay additional attention to their oral health.

Gum disease problems

As we mentioned earlier, gum disease has been linked with a number of general health issues. Because of this alone, it is worth making sure that your gums are looked after. With poor gum health come a number of unpleasant symptoms which might include soreness, inflammation, bad breath and wobbly teeth. This latter symptom is a particularly worrying one as it indicates that the infection has also affected the bone which supports the teeth.

This stage of gum disease, known as periodontitis, occurs when the bacteria causing the disease has reached beneath the gum line and has attacked the roots of the tooth and the surrounding bone tissue. As the bone degrades, it causes the roots of the teeth to become loose and wobbly. When this happens, there is a real risk that tooth loss can occur. Although a treatment known as ‘root planing’ or a ‘deep clean’ can be used to attempt to reverse this, it is not always successful and it is a far better approach to try to prevent gum disease from occurring in the first place.

Good gum care for diabetics

The essentials for good gum health are the same for diabetics as they are for everyone else; twice daily brushing, flossing and regular check ups. These check ups are usually carried out at six monthly intervals, but for diabetics, our Woking dental team may recommend that these are done more frequently.

If you are a diabetic, you should pay particular attention to your gum health, including the following:

Lifestyle

Those with diabetes will already have to monitor their lifestyle. From a dental perspective, we would also add that you shouldn’t smoke and also be very careful about the amount of alcohol that you drink. Both of these habits will increase your risk of gum disease even further.

Teeth and gum cleaning

You should brush your teeth well both morning and last thing at night. You may wish to consider using a toothpaste that is designed for managing gum disease and also make sure to pay particular attention to where your teeth meet the gums as this is where bacteria collect. You should also use dental floss on a daily basis. If you are not sure how to use this correctly, please ask our hygienist who will happily demonstrate for you.

Dental hygienist

Seeing the dental hygienist for an oral health review should be an essential part of your general oral health care and this is especially the case for those suffering from diabetes. We generally recommend that for this, and other ‘at risk’ groups, this is done at three monthly intervals. During your appointment, the hygienist will check your gum health and discuss with you any aspects of your lifestyle which you could change to improve it. In addition to this, any tartar that has built up on your teeth or gum line will be removed with a ‘scale and polish’ procedure. If this is done every three months or so, this will greatly improve your chances of avoiding significant gum health problems.

If you have diabetes and have not had an oral health review recently, we recommend that you do so as soon as possible. The team at Synergy Parkside Dental Centre will be pleased to help you establish and maintain a healthy mouth. You can call our Woking practice on 01483 766355 if you wish to make an appointment with us.

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