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Diabetes and Dental Problems: What’s the Relationship?

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More and more people are recognizing the link between oral health and their general health.
This is mainly due to the slew of recent studies pertaining to the correlation between heart disease and gum disease.

But we all need to be aware that heart disease isn’t the only condition related to our oral health.

Diabetes can have a major impact on our oral health. What’s the relationship between diabetes and dental problems?

Diabetes and Dental Problems – What You Need to Know

diabetes care calgaryNovember is Diabetes Month, and you can be sure that as your SE Calgary dentist, I’m going to delve into this topic with many of my patients in the office and here, online. This month, my goal is to educate as many of my patients as possible about the link between diabetes and oral health.

So, what do you need to know about diabetes and your oral health?

Dry Mouth

First of all, diabetes has been shown to cause dry mouth. This may not seem like a big deal, however, our saliva is a natural buffer against some of the damaging foods we eat.

Saliva helps break down the food we eat, and it can wash away some food particles that remain after we swallow. But if our salivary flow has greatly decreased because of diabetes or medication, that can spell disaster.

If food particles are left behind– particularly sugary foods – they are quickly turned into acids by the bacteria in our mouth. This is what causes decay, and people with dry mouth often have an increased occurrence of dental decay.

Gum Disease

Second, diabetes can contribute to gum disease. Gum disease is, ultimately, a bacterial attack on the gum tissue. When patients have diabetes, their white blood cell counts are typically low. This means they have a harder time fighting off infections – like those that occur in patients with gum disease.

Burning Mouth Syndrome

Finally, some patients with diabetes experience burning mouth syndrome – a very uncomfortable, and often painful, condition. Burning mouth syndrome is often related to Thrush, a type of fungal infection. Again, diabetes reduces our ability to fight infections, which includes bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.

What You Can Do to Reduce Your Risk

A tooth during dental cleaning in SetonJust as diabetes can impact your oral health, conversely, your dental health can have a profound effect on your overall health.

Thankfully, there’s something we can do to protect our general and dental health.

Practice Exceptional Dental Home Care

While exercising and eating healthier foods can help reduce our risk of diseases like diabetes – it’s not enough.

We need to take steps to protect our oral health. Doing so will protect our teeth and gums, and ultimately, will be a key factor in keeping us healthy overall.

This means that we all need to implement exceptional dental home care into our daily lives.

  • Brush thoroughly at least twice a day, preferably with an electric toothbrush.
  • Floss at least once a day. At night is best as it leaves your mouth free of food particles while you’re sleeping.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, mostly water.
  • Try Biotene spray for dry mouth.
  • Use PreviDent®or another fluoride mouth rinse to prevent cavities

How Your SE Calgary Dentist Can Help

Another step you can take in diabetes, cavity, and gum disease prevention is to come see me regularly.

I urge most of my patients to come in every six months for a dental cleaning. However, if one of my patients has gum disease, diabetes, dry mouth, or a history of a lot of cavities, I recommend they come in more frequently.

A cleaning every four months is usually ideal in these situations.

Protect Your Dental Health During Diabetes Month and Beyond

During the 2017 Diabetes Month, why not make a pledge to do all you can to protect your health?

  • Make an appointment with your doctor to have your blood glucose levels checked.
  • Consider making some adjustments to your diet – like less sugary or processed foods.
  • Add in some more exercise.

Introducing these changes can do much to improve your overall health. You’ll feel more energized, have better immunity, and reduce your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes.

And a benefit I’m especially partial to – these changes can protect your oral health. I’ve seen patients reduce their risk of cavities and gum disease by making simple, sustainable changes to their general health.

I hope you’ll join me and make this a month of healthy lifestyle changes. Here’s to our health!

Would you like more information about how to improve your dental and overall health? Please contact my Seton dental clinic to schedule an examination. I look forward to answering your questions.

Jay Patel

Written by
Dr. Jay Patel

Dr. Patel aims to provide Calgarians with comprehensive oral health care and preventive dental care focused on improving overall well-being. This shows in Dr. Patel’s focus on preventing diseases and achieving effective dental results through patient education and the use of advanced dental technology.

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Dr. Jay Patel

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