Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases in which either the pancreas produces an inadequate amount of insulin (known as Type 1 diabetes) or cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced (Type 2 diabetes). The result for both types of diabetes is a high blood sugar level. According to the American Diabetes Association, a total of 25.8 million adults and children in the U.S. currently have diabetes, and the number is rising. In addition, it is estimated that 79 million people have a condition known as pre-diabetes.1 With diabetes or pre-diabetes affecting close to 105 million Americans, the scope of this disease is very large.
Good oral health is especially important for people living with diabetes because their ability to fight oral infections is compromised. Diabetics are more susceptible than non-diabetics to developing serious gum disease that can lead to tooth loss. Research suggests the relationship between oral health and diabetes is cyclical. In addition to a higher susceptibility to oral problems, gum disease in diabetics can exacerbate the diabetes by adversely affecting blood glucose control.2
What you should know about diabetes and oral health problems
A variety of oral health problems are associated with diabetes. Diabetics frequently suffer from mouth ulcers, cavities, dry mouth and fungal infections. Gum disease may go undetected as it does not always cause pain. However, there are warning signs diabetics can watch for:
- Red, puffy, or tender gums.
- Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing.
- Persistent bad breath.
- Gums that are pulling away from the teeth.
- Puss in between the gums and teeth.
- Noticeable changes in the way teeth fit together when biting.
- Shifting or loosening of permanent teeth.
Any of the above symptoms can indicate the presence of gum disease. The best way to prevent the progression of gum disease is to visit a dentist as soon as any of these signs appear. Diabetics should make their dentists aware of their medical condition; the dentist will be better able to provide proper treatment and make recommendations for ongoing care. Dental checkups should occur at least once every six months to ensure optimal oral health.
How to maintain excellent oral health with diabetes
Maintaining proper blood glucose levels is necessary for a healthy mouth and for good overall health. Controlled blood glucose levels help to prevent harmful oral bacteria from thriving and wreaking havoc on gums and teeth. A few key components of a successful oral care routine are as follows:
- Brush at least twice a day with antimicrobial toothpaste.
- Floss daily, and/or use an oral irrigator.
- Use an alcohol-free antimicrobial oral rinse.
Antimicrobial natural toothpastes and mouth rinses, especially those made with essential oils, are ideal options for those with diabetes and gum disease; they offer maximum efficacy in minimizing harmful bacteria, and the essential oils provide soothing and therapeutic benefits. In addition, alcohol-free oral rinses help maintain the natural balance of saliva, which is highly beneficial for diabetics suffering from dry mouth.
Dental Herb Company makes all natural oral care products you can trust. The formulas contain pure essential oils and extracts of organically grown herbs, without chemicals or additives such as sodium lauryl sulfate and alcohol. Dental Herb Company’s proven, Truly Natural products are as gentle as they are powerful. When used in conjunction with treatment to stabilize blood glucose levels, healthy hygiene habits, and routine professional cleanings, these solutions help provide a sustainable line of defense in combating gum disease in diabetics.
- “Diabetes Statistics.” Diabetes.org. American Diabetes Association, n.d. Web. <http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-statistics/>
- “Diabetes and Oral Health Problems.” Diabetes.org. American Diabetes Association, n.d. Web.