November is National Diabetes Awareness Month.
Did you know that 29.1 million people living in the United States have diabetes? That’s a little over 9 percent of the population. There are approximately 1.7 million new cases diagnosed each year—and another 8 million people are undiagnosed.
Diabetes affects your body’s ability to process sugar.
The food you eat turns to sugar and is used for energy. If you have Type I diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin, a hormone that carries sugar from your blood to the cells that need it for energy. If you have Type II diabetes, your body stops responding to insulin. Both types result in high blood sugar levels, that can often cause problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other parts of your body.
Diabetes affects the body in many ways. In addition to excessive thirst and/or urination, many people also experience weight loss and fatigue. If blood sugar gets too low, people can lose consciousness.
If left untreated, diabetes can affect your mouth, too.
>> A lack of saliva leads to dry mouth and a higher risk of cavities.
>> The gums can become inflamed and even bleed (called gingivitis)
>> Mouth wounds take longer to heal and can easily get infected
>> Children with diabetes often have early tooth eruption
You can help keep diabetes from affecting your dental health.
The most important thing you can do if you have diabetes is control your blood glucose level. This will go a long way in preventing or relieving dry mouth. Be sure take good care of your teeth and gums – that includes regular check-ups twice a year. Keep infections at by maintaining good diabetic control, avoiding smoking and removing/cleaning your dentures if you wear them.
Be sure to tell your dentist and hygienist about any changes in your condition and any medications you are taking. If your blood sugar is not in control, hold off on any non-emergency dental procedures.
Dr. Mike Mavrostomos is passionate about providing top-quality, comprehensive dental care. He is located in Bedminster, NJ whose continual pursuit of education and state-of-the-art dentistry has led to his being recognized as one of New Jersey’s Top Dentists by the New Jersey Top-Docs committee.