November is national Diabetes Awareness Month in Canada, and I thought it would be a good idea to review some of the important challenges diabetics face daily, as well as the importance of a strong healthcare program including efficient and regular dental care. Diabetes Awareness month is a time to focus on your health and re-educate yourself on the important steps you need to take to stay healthy. If you have diabetes, the right course of regular and careful dental care can make the difference between a healthy life and tough complications.
Diabetes and Oral Health
Diabetes is a systemic illness characterized by abnormal levels of blood sugar, either high or low, and often vacillating between the two. If you have diabetes you can experience many of oral health problems including dry mouth that leads to ulcers and infections as well as tooth decay, and even a fungal infection in your mouth called thrush.
Even worse, if you don’t take good care of your teeth, it can lead to problems and complications with the diabetes, which in turn also makes your teeth and gums more prone to problems. It’s a horrible Catch-22.
Diabetes and Oral Care
It’s important to understand that there’s a close connection between managing diabetes and oral care. The best way to keep your dental health strong is to both properly manage your diabetes and engage in regular visits to your dentist. When you’re at home, take the right steps to manage your condition and engage in a good routine of care.
You should follow these tips to keep your teeth, gums and body strong and healthy:
- Make sure that you brush your teeth after every meal, waiting 30 minutes to allow your enamel to harden again
- Manage dry mouth by using alcohol-free mouthwash, preferably with antiseptic properties
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Floss every day
- Never sleep in dentures
- Avoid smoking
- Manage your blood sugar as closely as possible
Engaging in proper lifestyle choices, diet and at-home oral care is the first step in managing your diabetes and staying healthy in the long term.
Working with Your Dentist
I try to work closely with my patients as a vital part of their healthcare team. I talk with my patients about the condition and associated medications. You should always let your dentist know where your blood sugar lies, both A1c and fasting, and whether you take insulin and, if so, when the most recent dose was taken.
You should visit your dentist at least twice a year to have your teeth and gums thoroughly and properly cleaned. It can’t be understated just how important it is to view caring for your mouth as a vital part of your diabetes treatment. It doesn’t just help you to better manage both your oral and your overall health — it’s vital.
If you live in Whistler, BC, or the surrounding areas, and you’re looking for a dentist to help you manage your oral care as part of your diabetes plan, I’m eager to help. Look at the services my clinic offers, and get in touch to schedule an appointment today!