While it is easy to think of oral hygiene and physical health as two different subjects, the truth is they are inextricably intertwined and closely related. The health of your teeth can have a profound impact on the health of your body, and vice versa.
Studies have shown that tooth decay and gum disease can increase the likelihood of heart problems, but that is not the only connection between oral hygiene and overall health. Keeping your smile bright, white and healthy is good for your self-esteem, but it is good for the rest of your body as well.
While it is important for everyone, regardless of their underlying health challenges, to take good care of their teeth, proper oral hygiene may be even more vital for those with diabetes. If your doctor has diagnosed you with this common chronic illness, it is important to share that information with your dentist. It is also important for you to share any oral hygiene concerns with your family doctor and any specialists you are currently seeing.
Research has shown that those with diabetes are at increased risk of gum disease. Those with diabetes may also be at higher risk of periodontitis, the most severe, and potentially most dangerous, type of gum disease. By the time gum disease has advanced to this state, the gums will have already begun to separate, allowing dangerous air pockets to form and causing the illness to progress even further.
While there is a proven link between having diabetes and being at higher risk for gum disease, there is also reason to think that poor oral hygiene can raise the risk of diabetes. The link between poor oral hygiene and diabetes has not been definitively proven, but the potential for the disease is one more reason to take good care of your teeth.
It is also important to note that there is a definitive link between the consumption of sugary snacks and drinks and the development of cavities, gum disease and other dental problems. Limiting the consumption of these unhealthy foods is even more important for those with diabetes, but there is another positive side effect.
Reducing your consumption of sugary sodas, sweetened coffee drinks, doughnuts, cakes and other junk foods is good for your teeth, but it can also greatly reduce complications from your diabetes.
If you have diabetes, it is important to build a team of health care professionals who understand your challenges and the steps you are taking to overcome them. You can start building that team by sharing your diabetes diagnosis with your dentist, letting your oral health professional know about the condition and how you are treating it.
You can also build a bridge between your general practitioner and diabetes care specialist and your dentist, sharing your oral hygiene regimen and letting your doctor know about any planned dental procedures. Your oral health is a big part of your physical health, and keeping everyone on the same page is the best way to protect the health of your smile – and the rest of your body.