November is Diabetes Awareness Month, a time to recognize the chronic illness that nearly 10% of the US population lives with, and the impacts diabetes can have on the body. Diabetes is a condition that effects the body’s ability to process sugar resulting from unstable levels of a hormone called insulin. In addition to the effects this has on the body, diabetes also impacts the mouth and can play a role in an individual’s oral health.
Diabetes is classified as either Type I or Type II and although these present differently in how the body processes sugar, the potential impacts on the mouth are present in both. Someone with diabetes is more likely to have periodontal (gum) disease, especially if their blood sugar is not well controlled, due to an increase in bacteria in the mouth. Along with gum disease, those with diabetes are also more likely to experience dry mouth, have more cavities, and are more susceptible to infections in the mouth.
Despite the increased risk for these oral health concerns, those with diabetes can take steps to protect their oral health and reduce the likelihood of disease. Along with managing blood sugar and regularly seeing their healthcare provider, individuals with diabetes can protect their oral health by:
- Brushing twice per day, and flossing once per day
- Seeing a dentist regularly, and talking with them about ways to manage oral health while living with diabetes
- Cleaning dentures everyday (if applicable)
- Avoiding smoking
- Choosing healthy foods and drinks to improve overall health and disease management
Join KOHC in recognizing Diabetes Awareness Month during November and the importance of caring for your oral health as part of overall health.