Do you or your child have diabetes and are seeking orthodontic care in the near future? Then this blog is for you. Diabetes is a common disease that affects about 1 in 10 Americans. But the good news is that this day and age offers many resources for controlling your diabetes without it controlling you.
Diabetes exposes individuals to a higher risk of heart disease and can negatively affect their eyes, kidneys, nerves, and skin. Did you know diabetes can also affect your oral health? People with diabetes have a higher risk for periodontal disease and other oral infections such as thrush that can interfere with orthodontic treatment.
Does this mean you should avoid orthodontic treatment if you have diabetes? In most cases, the answer is no. Plenty of people with diabetes have thrived with orthodontic care and benefited from their beautiful, straight bite just like the rest of us. However, there are some precautions you should take.
Start by telling your orthodontist that you have diabetes. You should also be aware of the effect of diabetes on oral health and know how to prevent problems that could interfere with your orthodontic treatment.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a result of poor oral hygiene. Periodontitis is an infection in the gums. It affects the soft tissue and slowly or rapidly destroys the bone that supports your teeth. Periodontitis is caused by bacterial build-up in your mouth and could lead to a root canal or even loss of a tooth.
Higher Risk for Periodontal Disease
If you have diabetes, make it a high priority to take care of your teeth. Since people with diabetes are more susceptible to infections, their risk for periodontal disease is much higher. And those with periodontal disease may have a rough experience during orthodontic treatment.
- Periodontitis leads to bone loss and inflammation, moving the teeth out of place during treatment.
- Periodontitis can stress the gums so much that your orthodontist or dentist may need to stop the treatment early.
Gingivitis is the early stage of periodontal disease, and the signs include red, swollen, and tender gums. Not only does it make the gums bleed easily, but it also results in bad breath. Here’s how gingivitis may affect your orthodontic care:
- Braces may tear the skin and result in bleeding for gingivitis patients.
- Swelling the gums during braces treatment may obstruct the braces for gingivitis patients.
The most common oral health issue in the U.S is tooth decay, and it’s an even bigger threat for diabetics. Bacteria feeding on the sugar in your mouth accumulates plaque over the surface of your teeth and results in tooth decay. The saliva in your mouth is meant to balance the acid produced by bacteria. However, diabetics tend to make less saliva, and the saliva they do produce often has higher glucose levels. Thus, their saliva is not balancing the acidity in their mouth, which leads to greater tooth decay.
Here’s how tooth decay may affect your orthodontic treatment:
- If getting braces, the brackets and wires frequently trap food, and failing to clean your teeth properly may result in permanent tooth damage and brown/chalky teeth.
- The loss of minerals in the structure of the teeth can lead to the teeth crumbling and breaking during orthodontic treatment.
Tips for Keeping Your Teeth Healthy Through Orthodontic Treatment
Since diabetes makes you prone to low saliva and high glucose levels, you must be on guard against infection. Being proactive about your specific dental needs is key to avoiding oral infections and tooth decay. Our West Haven family dentists recommend the following tips:
1. Use an interdental brush
This is a thin, round brush with bristles held together by a wire. It fits in between the teeth to remove pieces of food and plaque. It’s excellent for getting food from in-between braces that your toothbrush failed to reach. You can buy them at your local pharmacy or supermarket.
2. Brush your teeth twice a day
Do not skip a brushing session. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and more if you have braces or Invisalign. Consider using mouthwash after each brushing session.
3. Rinse after every meal
Something simple and easy can make a difference to your oral health. Rinsing after every meal can help eliminate particles between your teeth immediately, so they don’t sit there and damage your teeth.
4. Drink water with food
Drink water with every meal and snack to help wash particles away. Stay away from sugary drinks or drinks with food coloring in them.
5. Do visual checks
Examine your mouth regularly for signs of infection. Look for inflammation, redness, or bleeding gums. Catching an issue right away can make all the difference in your treatment.
6. Refrain from smoking
Smoking can raise the risk of oral infections and change cells if they don’t respond to insulin. Stay away from nicotine.
Orthodontic treatment may be a little more difficult if you have diabetes, but getting braces, aligners, or any other orthodontic treatment will be no big deal if you stay ahead of your oral health.
Remember to rinse after every meal, brush daily, drink lots of water when you eat, check your mouth regularly, and refrain from smoking. It’s also important to tell your Utah family dentist about your diabetes and see your dentist regularly for check ups and cleanings. The littlest things make the most significant difference to your oral health, and your oral health significantly affects your overall health.