Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body uses food. There are two types. Type 1 is referred to as insulin dependent or immune-mediated diabetes, and is caused by the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin. Insulin is necessary for the vast number of blood cells in our body to use glucose, a sugar that helps sustain life. Type 2 is often referred to as non-insulin dependent or adult-onset diabetes and is the much more common form, occurring in roughly 90 percent of the cases. With Type 2 diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin or cannot properly use it.
Your physician has most likely informed you of the complications of untreated or poorly controlled diabetes, which include kidney failure, gangrene or possible amputation of the legs and feet, blindness or stroke. As dentists, we are mainly concerned with the effects on the gums and immune system.
Gum disease is generally more common and more severe in patients with diabetes. This is because blood cells in the gums and jawbone that protect us from infection are not as effective. This means that the diabetic needs to work more diligently on oral hygiene, brushing teeth and flossing, as well as make sure the disease is as controlled as possible.
If you have a dental infection, and require either a root canal or need to have a tooth extraction, there are some important things for you to remember. Make sure you eat your normal breakfast before you visit the dentist. If you are taking insulin, take your normal dosage unless your dentist and physician have agreed to alter the dosage. If you have not eaten and are in pain, or feel a high degree of stress prior to a dental procedure, this can cause your blood sugar to drop. By eating (we use the expression "keep them sweet") and taking the proper amount of insulin, you reduce the potentially dangerous complication of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Diabetics, especially poorly controlled diabetics, are at an increased risk for infection -- that includes potential complications from dental infections. If your diabetes is under poor control, and your blood sugar is very high, dental surgical procedures may need to be delayed until you are under better control. In some cases, you may need to take antibiotics prior to certain dental treatments to reduce the risk of infection.
Remember, only a dentist can diagnose your dental problems and offer the right treatment plan for you. If you need a dentist, call us at 1-866-970-0441 to be connected with one today.