The rate of Kentucky adults diagnosed with diabetes has nearly doubled in the past 15 years, according to the most recent figures available from Kentucky Public Health. Another 138,000 adults in the Commonwealth don’t know they’re living with it.
Diabetes, a condition in which the body cannot properly process glucose, causes high blood sugar levels. In turn, diabetes can affect other parts of the body: eyes, kidneys, heart, and even your mouth.
In honor of National Diabetes Month, we wanted to draw attention to the ways in which diabetes can affect your oral health — as well as ways Beaumont Family Dentistry in Lexington, KY can help. Take a look, and then give us a call at one of our three convenient locations to make an appointment with our compassionate team of dental professionals:
- Beaumont: 859-223-2120
- Hamburg: 859-687-0975
- Leestown: 859-368-8260
1. Increased Risk Of Gum Disease
It seems like a strange connection, but having diabetes puts you at greater risk for periodontal disease.
Why is that? Research has shown that having blood sugar levels that are too high or too low can make you more vulnerable to gum disease, according to the American Dental Association.
Gum disease comes in two forms. In its early stages, gum disease is called gingivitis. It is marked by red, inflamed, and bleeding gums. If it’s caught early enough, the bacteria buildup that causes gingivitis can be removed, and gum disease can be cured.
But if the problem is not properly addressed, gum disease can worsen into periodontitis. It’s often marked by gum recession, which occurs when gum tissue pulls away from the teeth. This can create “pockets,” or gaps, between your teeth and your gumline and expose the roots of your teeth.
Some common signs of gum disease are:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen gums
- Gumline recession
- Chronic bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Any change in your bite or the fit of dental prosthetics
At Beaumont Family Dentistry, we offer nonsurgical procedures to eliminate bacterial buildup that leads to gum disease:
- Scaling and root planing. WIth this procedure, we first use ultrasonic scalers to remove plaque from around and underneath your gumline. Not only are ultrasonic scalers more effective than traditional scalers at removing bacterial buildup; they’re also more gentle!
- Arestin treatments. In addition to your deep cleaning, we can also place antibiotics below the gumline to stave off infection.
- Laser technology. Don’t worry! It’s not as scary as it sounds. Dental lasers are an incredibly gentle and precise way to clean out periodontal pockets. We use this if your gum disease is advanced.
We also offer state-of-the-art treatments for repairing damage caused by gum recession. Traditionally, this involves the use of gum grafts — healthy tissue that we secure over your receding gumline. But Beaumont Family Dentistry is proud to offer the minimally invasive Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique!
With the ‘Pinhole’ technique, we simply create a few tiny holes in your gums and, using special tools, we gently reposition your gums to better protect your teeth. There’s no surgical cutting involved, and most patients make a full recovery within 24 to 48 hours!
Getting your gum disease under control could help you better regulate your blood sugar levels, since all infections make it more difficult to do so.
If you’re experiencing some of the signs of gum disease, give us a call to make an appointment!
2. Dry Mouth
Studies have shown those with diabetes often don’t produce enough saliva, which results in dry mouth. The problem is also exacerbated by the fact some medications, as well as high blood sugar levels, can contribute to dry mouth.
Not only is dry mouth uncomfortable, but it also can cause bad breath and increase your risk for tooth decay and cavities. That’s because saliva helps clear food particles from your teeth and gums.
Here are some things you can do to lessen the effects of dry mouth:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Chew sugarless gum.
- Eat crunchy foods.
- Brush with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Breathe through your nose instead of your mouth.
- Use a vaporizer in your house to add moisture to the air.
Your dentist might be able to recommend an oral rinse or artificial saliva to help alleviate some of the discomfort you’re experiencing.
3. Oral Infections
Unfortunately, diabetes can slow your immune system, which increases your risk for infection.
Oral thrush is particularly common among people with diabetes. Marked by a white rash on the inside of your mouth, oral thrush is a yeast infection within the mouth.
The candida fungus that causes oral thrush is supposed to be present in your mouth, but typically, other bacteria keep the candida fungus in check. Certain conditions and medications can throw off how things normally function, resulting in infection.
People with diabetes who also wear dentures are especially susceptible to oral thrush.
If you think you have thrush or any oral infection, give Beaumont Family Dentistry a call to schedule an appointment! We’ll get your oral health back on track.