If you have diabetes, you might not know it until it’s too late. In fact, the CDC estimates that nearly a quarter of adults with diabetes don’t realize that they have the condition. Unfortunately, if diabetes is left undetected and untreated, you could suffer from severe health complications – and it may even threaten your smile! Learn more about the connection between diabetes and gum disease in Kenner.
How Does Diabetes Affect the Body?
Diabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels become too high (either due to cells becoming insulin-resistant or the immune system destroying the cells that produce insulin). This can cause a lot of damage to your blood vessels and can harm your eyes, kidneys, nerves and other body parts. You’ll also be at an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. In other words, uncontrolled diabetes could be putting your life in danger.
How is Diabetes Connected to Gum Disease?
Gum disease – which your dentist in Kenner might call periodontal disease – is an oral infection that worsens over time. The earliest stage is gingivitis, which causes inflammation and bleeding; eventually, it’ll become periodontitis, which can result in gum recession and bone loss. If gum disease isn’t stopped in time, you could start losing teeth altogether.
So what does uncontrolled blood sugar have to do with this condition? A study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that patients with newly found diabetes were more likely to also suffer from periodontitis. This is because diabetes makes the body more susceptible to infection in general by weakening the immune system and slowing the flow of blood; also, the infections tend to be much more severe as a result.
It should be noted that like diabetes, gum disease has also been linked to heart attacks and other cardiovascular conditions (although whether or not it can be the direct cause for such problems is still being researched). To protect your overall health, you’ll need to have diabetes treated as soon as possible while maintaining excellent oral health.
How Can You Fight Diabetes and Protect Your Smile?
Be on the look out for symptoms of diabetes. These signs can include fatigue, irritability, slow-healing wounds, nausea, infections in the skin, tingling or numbness in your hands or feet, and needing to go to the bathroom too often. Once you’ve gotten a diagnosis, you can fight diabetes with appropriate medication as well as lifestyle changes such as weight loss and healthy eating.
In the meantime, you should be taking extra good care of your mouth. That means brushing and flossing at least twice a day. Antibacterial mouthwash is particularly helpful for preventing infections. And of course, you should visit your dentist at least twice a year for preventive care. All of these steps will help keep your smile – and the rest of your body – happy and healthy!
About the Practice
At deJong & Plaisance Family Dentistry in River Ridge, Dr. Kerry T. Plaisance and Dr. W. Keith deJong want to make sure that you feel as relaxed as possible while you receive essential oral care to help you avoid the long-term consequences of gum disease and tooth decay. To schedule an appointment, visit their website or call (504) 738-5171.