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How Does Diabetes Affect Teeth?

While taking care of your teeth is important for everyone, it’s especially important for people with diabetes. Here’s everything you need to know about why diabetics need to pay extra attention when brushing, and tips for maintaining your oral health. 

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body is unable to produce enough insulin to help the cells absorb blood sugar and convert it into energy. As a result, diabetics end up dealing with frequently high blood sugar levels.

The Impact of High Blood Sugar

High blood sugar can lead to weakened white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off bacteria and infection. And when sugar levels are high in your blood, that means they’re high in your saliva, causing more plaque buildup on your teeth. More plaque means a greater risk for problems like tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease — with gum disease being more detrimental to diabetics than non-diabetics.

Symptoms to Keep an Eye On

If you’re diabetic, keep an eye out for symptoms like:

  • Dry mouth, caused by less saliva 
  • Bleeding or inflamed gums (indicative of gum disease)
  • Infections in your mouth taking longer than normal to heal

Preventative Measures You Can Take

The good news is that there are plenty of preventative measures you can take to avoid these issues:

  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings, x-rays, and check-ups 
  • Inform your dentist that you have diabetes
  • Be sure to follow your diabetes care schedule
  • Brush twice a day (at least) with fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss at least once a day 
  • If you smoke or vape, quit!

While the most common care instructions for diabetes include checking your blood sugar levels, getting regular physical activity, and maintaining a healthy diet, paying close attention to your oral health is equally important.

Want to learn more? Fill out our appointment request form or give us a call at 410-431-1768.

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