If you live with diabetes, you probably already know that you need to see your doctor on a regular basis to ensure your blood sugars are kept in check and no complications from the disease have presented themselves. However, there are three reasons that you should add regular dental checkups to your diabetes care regimen.
Remove Tartar, Plaque, and Bacterial Buildup
While you may brush and floss your teeth several times a day, it is hard to get your teeth completely clean. Eventually, the tartar that builds up around the base of your teeth will harden and turn into plaque. As part of this buildup, bacteria also become embedded next to your gums, where they are allowed to thrive.
Because diabetes weakens your immune system, it has difficulty fully fighting off germs. These bacteria could lead to infections in your gums. If one of the infections becomes serious and spreads into your bloodstream, you could become extremely sick.
To ensure that the buildup is removed, see your dentist once or twice a year, depending on their recommendation and the severity of your diabetes. While you are there, the dental hygienist will perform a thorough, professional cleaning of your teeth to help get rid of the tartar, plaque, and bacteria that have become trapped on your teeth and along your gumline.
Have Your Mouth Checked for Thrush
Another reason you need regular dental checkups is so that the dentist can check your mouth for thrush. This form of yeast infection can infect diabetics such as yourself for two reasons, the first being that your immune system is typically lower than a nondiabetic.
The other reason that you are at a higher risk of developing thrush is your body's tendency to become dehydrated. When your blood sugar levels rise, your body responds by making the kidneys work harder to flush out the excess glucose in your bloodstream and making you urinate more often.
Because you are also losing water along with the glucose, you become dehydrated. This dehydration means that you do not have as much saliva being produced in your mouth, which decreases its cleansing capabilities.
As a result, not only can bacteria grow at an accelerated rate, but yeast is allowed to flourish. The yeast can then take over your mouth, leading to thrush.
When you tell your dentist that you are a diabetic, they will know to look for thrush while examining your teeth, gums, and tongue. They may also take a swab to find out if you have any yeast present. If so, your dentist can prescribe a treatment to keep the yeast from growing any further.
Catch Signs of Gum Disease Early
Because of all the reasons discussed above, such as a weakened immune system and increased risk of dehydration, you are also more likely to develop gum disease when you are a diabetic. Along with the other reasons, you may also have problems with your circulatory system that could decrease the blood flow to your gums.
If you have the beginnings of gum disease, the condition could progress faster because of your diabetes. Since your body does not heal itself at a normal rate, any deterioration of the gum tissue because of early-onset gum disease could become periodontal disease faster than if you did not have diabetes.
When you see your dentist on a regular basis, they can check your gums for the early signs, such as thinning tissue or receding gum line. If any symptoms are found, treatment can begin to help reverse some of the effects and slow dow the progression of the disease.
When you have diabetes, a regular dental examination and thorough cleaning could help prevent serious issues with your oral health. If it has been a while since you have had a dental checkup, contact a family dentist like Jeffrey S. Thaller DMD to schedule an appointment, and let the office know that you have diabetes so they can give your teeth and gums a thorough examination.