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The benefits of routine preventative dental care are numerous. Getting a professional teeth cleaning and checkup every 4-6 months can prevent cavities and gum disease and save you money in the long run. But did you know that regular dental checkups also help improve your overall health and keep chronic illnesses like diabetes in check? November is National Diabetes Month – perfect timing to highlight the link between dental health and diabetes.

Diabetes in Hawaii

Here in Hawaii, diabetes affects a large percentage of our population. According to the American Diabetes Association, 154,365 people have diabetes in Hawaii. Another 442,000 have pre-diabetes. Diabetes is expensive! Diabetes and prediabetes cost an estimated 1.5 billion in Hawaii each year. Learn more about the disease here.

Diabetes and Dental Health

It can be easy to think about your dental health as separate from your overall health. However, the health of our teeth and gums is directly linked to the rest of our body. Bacteria in your mouth doesn’t just stay in your mouth. It enters your bloodstream. This causes inflammation in your body.

Inflammation is what happens when your body’s immune system is constantly reacting and trying to fight off the bacteria in your bloodstream. Infection and inflammation are particularly hazardous to people with diabetes and pre-diabetes. With a chronic health condition, a person’s system is already taxed and is unable to fight off infection like a healthy person. In addition, inflammation can contribute to serious diabetes-related complications like heart disease and stroke.

Diabetes and Cavities

According to the American Dental Association (ADA) dry mouth, a symptom of diabetes can negatively affect your teeth. Since saliva protects your teeth, less saliva means teeth are more susceptible to cavities. People with diabetes can also experience delayed wound healing and are more susceptible to infections inside their mouths.

Diabetes and Gum Disease

According to the ADA, people with diabetes are more likely to experience gum disease. Periodontal disease, an advanced form of gum disease affects approximately 22% of people with diabetes in the United States. Left untreated, it causes gum, tissue, and bone loss, ultimately resulting in tooth loss. As an infection, gum disease can cause blood sugar to rise. People living with diabetes need extra care when it comes to their smiles.

Suggested Dental Care for Patients with Diabetes

Taking excellent care of your teeth and gums can help minimize diabetes complications and keep you healthy. We recommend people with diabetes take the following steps for preventative dental care:

  • Remove foods that cause inflammation like refined carbohydrates, alcohol, processed meats, and high fructose corn syrup from your diet.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Brush and floss your teeth at least twice per day and use a disinfecting mouth wash.
  • Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings every 4-6 months.

Have a question about diabetes and your dental health? Need help making an appointment?

Contact us or call Tropical Smiles Dental at (808) 329-1715.