“Diabetes and Dental Problems?”

We all clean our teeth with tooth brushes, but how do you clean the tooth brush that cleans your teeth?

Diabetes is a serious health condition for a large segment of the population, which can cause problem of your eyes, heart, kidneys, nerves and blood vessels. Los Angeles (the city I live and love) has the highest diabetes-related amputation rate in the country! My father-in-law had a diabetes-related stroke, hitting close to home how the consequences of diabetes can be quite severe. There are many varied  effects on oral health due to the diabetes condition, including periodontal disease (gum disease), tooth decay, salivary gland dysfunction, fugal infection , delay and poor healing and taste impairment. I get pretty apprehensive when treating diabetic patients, especially when dental implants are called for, or surgical procedures were needed, because of the delayed and poor healing associated with diabetes. It is important to keep your health history updated and inform your dental professional if you are diabetic, whether or not the management of the condition is under control.

When diabetes is not controlled properly, excess glucose can attach to proteins in the blood vessels and alter their normal structure and function; the thicker and less elastic vessels lead to poor circulation and reduce the body’s resistance to infection (leading to gum infection). High glucose levels in your saliva will promote bacteria growth also. When this happens, your oral environment becomes much more susceptible to cavities, infection and gum disease. It is important if you are diabetic to keep up with your oral hygiene, as proper brushing and flossing can help prevent periodontitis, which can compromise the gum and bone and lead to tooth loss. Poor circulation due to diabetes can decrease  blood supply to the gums, causing dry mouth which is  more susceptible to disease as well (tooth decay, gingivitis , periodontitis, or fungal infection).

It is important to learn about your body, manage the diabetic condition through diet, exercise and medication under the care of your physician, see your dental professional regularly (twice or three times a year) for cleaning and check ups. All in all, if you are on top of your oral hygiene (brush and floss after every meal), control your blood glucose levels and visit your dentist regularly, you should be in good health. Schedule an appointment with your dental professional if you suspect your diabetes may be adversely affecting your oral health!

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