Did You Know
According to the CDC, in 2018, 34.2 million people of all ages had some form of diabetes. That is 10.5% of the US population. 1
Diabetes can impact your oral health and oral health can impact your diabetes. Take a look at the connections, learn when it’s time to make an appointment, understand what to prepare for before and after your dental appointment and tips to S.T.I.C.K. to a plan.
Connections: Oral Health and Diabetes
- Diabetes is affected by oral infections.
- Diabetes can affect blood glucose levels especially if there is an infection in the bone or gums. These changes in blood glucose can cause dry mouth.
- Dry mouth happens when you do not have enough saliva—the fluid that keeps your mouth wet. Dry mouth can cause soreness, ulcers, infections, and raises your risk for tooth decay and gum disease. Diabetes and some diabetes drugs can cause dry mouth.
- People with diabetes are more likely to develop thrush. Thrush is an infection that causes painful white patches in your mouth.
- Increase in Plaque = Increase in Cavities and Gum Disease. 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.
- Fighting Infection. Diabetes can also slow down healing, so it can interfere with treatment of periodontal disease and gum disease may be more severe and hard to treat and maintain.
- Blood Sugar Control. Periodontal (gum) disease may make your blood sugar harder to control.
- Women who are pregnant can have gestational diabetes.
When Should You Visit the Dentist?
Signs it’s time to call for an appointment:
- Swollen, tender, or bleeding gums
- White patches
- A change in sense of taste or bad taste in your mouth
- a sore, or an ulcer, that does not heal
- dark spots or holes in your teeth
- pain in your mouth, face, or jaw that doesn’t go away
- loose teeth
- pain when chewing
- bad breath that doesn’t go away when you brush your teeth
How to prepare for your dentist appointment when you have diabetes:
Medications: You may be taking a diabetes medicine that can cause low blood glucose, also called hypoglycemia. If you take insulin or other diabetes medicines, take them and eat as usual before visiting the dentist. You may need to bring your diabetes medicines and your snacks or meal with you to the dentist’s office
- Post Dental Work: A sore mouth is common after dental work. If this happens, you might not be able to eat or chew the foods you normally eat for several hours or days. For guidance on how to adjust your usual routine while your mouth is healing, ask your doctor.
S.T.I.C.K. to a Plan
Maintaining Good Oral Health When You Have Diabetes:
- Schedule regular dental visits – depending on your condition, your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings and exams.
- Take a look at your mouth after brushing and flossing for any signs of infection or concern.
- Inform your dentist of any medical conditions, medications, and symptoms and changes in your condition.
- Connect – offer to connect your dental and medical professionals to better coordinate your care.
- Keep – up with your daily oral health care. Be sure you are brushing and flossing regularly. Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush with toothpaste with fluoride two times a day or more. Floss once a day. Avoid food and drinks that are high in sugar. Managing your glucose helps manages your oral health.
To help you get your plan started, contact our HUSKY Health Member Services Team. They can help you connect to a dentist if you don’t already have a regular dentist. They can help you schedule your appointments or assist with language interpretation. They can even connect you to assistance with transportation to your oral health care providers, if needed.
Hearing impaired members, please dial 711 for Relay Connecticut assistance. Language translation also available.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month