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November is National Diabetes Month

diabetes and dental health

November is National Diabetes Month. What does that mean for dental health?

People who have been diagnosed with diabetes, both Type 1 & Type 2 diabetes, are at risk for increased dental health issues. This is due to the fact that circulation can pose a problem with those who are diagnosed.  Diabetics are at increased risk of periodontal, or gum disease, due to this. Often, diabetics will notice a dry mouth, or increased thirst, often an early warning sign of the disease.


Why Are Diabetics At Greater Risk of Dental Issues?

When diabetes is not controlled, high glucose levels in your saliva help harmful bacteria grow. These bacteria combine with food to form a soft, sticky film called plaque. Plaque also comes from eating foods that contain sugars or starches. Some types of plaque cause tooth decay or cavities. Other types of plaque cause gum disease and bad breath.

Image stating that high glucose levels equal an increase in plaque.

Gum disease can be more severe and take longer to heal if you have diabetes. In turn, having gum disease can make your blood glucose hard to control.

What are the most common mouth problems from diabetes?

The following chart shows the most common mouth problems from diabetes, and is taken from the National Institute Of Health.

            Problem             What It Is            Symptoms           Treatment
  • unhealthy or inflamed gums
  • red, swollen, and bleeding gums
  • daily brushing and flossing
  • regular cleanings at the dentist
  • gum disease, which can change from mild to severe
  • red, swollen, and bleeding gums
  • gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • long-lasting infection between the teeth and gums
  • bad breath that won’t go away
  • permanent teeth that are loose or moving away from one another
  • changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • sometimes pus between the teeth and gums
  • changes in the fit of dentures, which are teeth you can remove
  • deep cleaning at your dentist
  • medicine that your dentist prescribes
  • gum surgery in severe cases
thrush, called
  • the growth of a naturally occurring fungus that the body is unable to control
  • sore, white—or sometimes red—patches on your gums, tongue, cheeks, or the roof of your mouth
  • patches that have turned into open sores
  • medicine that your doctor or dentist prescribes to kill the fungus
  • cleaning dentures
  • removing dentures for part of the day or night, and soaking them in medicine that your doctor or dentist prescribes
dry mouth, called
  • a lack of saliva in your mouth, which raises your risk for tooth decay and gum disease
  • dry feeling in your mouth, often or all of the time
  • dry, rough tongue
  • pain in the mouth
  • cracked lips
  • mouth sores or infection
  • problems chewing, eating, swallowing, or talking
  • taking medicine to keep your mouth wet that your doctor or dentist prescribes
  • rinsing with a fluoride mouth rinse to prevent cavities
  • using sugarless gum or mints to increase saliva flow
  • taking frequent sips of water
  • avoiding tobacco, caffeine, and alcoholic beverages
  • using a humidifier, a device that raises the level of moisture in your home, at night
  • avoiding spicy or salty foods that may cause pain in a dry mouth
oral burning
  • a burning sensation inside the mouth caused by uncontrolled blood glucose levels
  • burning feeling in the mouth
  • dry mouth
  • bitter taste
  • symptoms may worsen throughout the day
  • seeing your doctor, who may change your diabetes medicine
  • once your blood glucose is under control, the oral burning will go away

If You’re a Diabetic, What Should You Do To Maintain Dental Health?  

The following is a list of advice for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics. While they are vastly different diseases, their impact on oral health are the same.

  • Visit us at Altman Dental for an oral hygiene check and cleaning 3-4x’s a year, depending on your gum health
  • Floss and brush regularly, preferably after each meal, but definitely 2x’s per day. Use fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Decrease intake of sugary and refined foods, and keep close watch of your blood glucose levels
  • Maintain a healthy weight, and exercise regularly

What Foods Should I Be Eating?

Bowls of Caribbean Black Bean Soup and Massaged Kale Salad

Whole, plant-based foods are the best foods to consume. Diets rich in fiber from sources like vegetables (as many as you can eat!), fruits, beans, and whole grains have been shown to moderate blood sugars. Diets based in plant-based foods, have been shown to reverse Type 2 diabetes. It’s not the carbohydrate you need to fear, but the simple, refined carbohydrates, stripped of their nutrition.  Foods like bread, white sugars, foods made with white flours and white rice (processed foods) are foods that have had their fiber stripped, and are often combined with fats.  Additionally, foods high in saturated fats also lead to insulin sensitivity.  Fiber is helps you to moderate your blood sugar levels, and a low-fat, whole food diet, helps your body to get glucose out of the blood stream.  For more information on how fiber and saturated fats play a part, we encourage you to visit the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, as well as check out our Pintrest page for more videos and articles.

The following is a great video from Nutrition Facts on how plant-based diets can reverse Type 2 diabetes.

As always, we are committed to helping you live a healthier life! Please give us a call at 8318018 if we can do anything to help, or visit our website Garden Fresh Foodie for healthy recipes!Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Lentils