Greater than 29 million Americans have diabetes, says Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS. The OKC dentist says there may be another 8 million currently undiagnosed. Contrary to popular belief, diabetes is a disease that affects the entire body – teeth and mouth included.

According to the OKC dentist, diabetics are more prone to gum disease than those with healthy blood glucose levels. Nearly one quarter of diabetics are diagnosed with some level of periodontal disease each year. Advanced gum disease, like all other infections, can raise a person’s blood sugar and make diabetes harder to control, leaving the body unable to effectively fight bacteria.

Diabetes has numerous warning signs that can manifest as oral health issues. For instance, children with Type I Diabetes often have teeth erupt earlier than other children. Adults and children may experience dry mouth, frequent thirst, increased cavities despite proper oral care, and a decreased sense of taste. As well, Dr. Johnson reports that diabetes can inhibit the body’s ability to heal wounds and cause the gums to bleed with gentle pressure.

Dr. Johnson says that dental care is vital in the fight against diabetes. The OKC dentist explains that treating gum disease may actually slow the progression of diabetes by helping to control blood sugar levels. For this reason – and many others – it is important for diabetics to follow through with regular preventative dental care and deep cleanings at least twice per year.

Managing diabetes is a team effort, says the OKC dentist, and it’s one that requires a few healthy oral care habits. Dr. Johnson recommends smokers kicking that habit as soon as possible and that diabetics limit alcohol intake. Dentures should be cleaned at least once a day. Any natural teeth can be cared for with twice-daily brushing and nightly flossing.

Diabetes is a serious condition, says the OKC dentist, and one that can rob an individual of his or her smile and confidence without proper preemptive actions.