I’d like to introduce a guest post by Erin Stelbrink. She is a Registered Dental Hygienist with 5+ years of experience as a licensed hygienist and oral health care professional. She holds a passion for researching the latest technologies and methods for providing valuable health care service and clinical treatment. Aside from clinical work, Erin serves as a product researcher and journalist for Smile Brilliant, a company providing professional teeth whitening from home and cavity prevention products.
Words from a concerned dental hygienist
Do you see your dentist regularly?
Pretty much everyone knows that it’s recommended to see a dentist on a regular basis, but unfortunately many people don’t actually follow this advice. I’m a dental hygienist myself, so I often see how bad it could turn out for those who avoid the dentist. There are patients all the time who don’t come in until they’re having major pain in their mouth. (It’s never good news, I can tell you that much.
Why you should dread not coming to the dentist
Patients neglect coming into the office for long spans of time because they just can’t seem to make it a priority. And so, the pain, when they ultimately do come see us, means something is more seriously wrong and it will be more difficult (and probably more expensive) to treat than if it had been caught earlier. I must admit it’s a very common tale where I work. But wouldn’t it be awesome if it could be avoided?
See your dentist twice a year to help prevent complications — especially for those with diabetes
The thing is, routine check-ups and cleanings at the dentist can greatly reduce the risk of developing serious dental or oral problems. Yes — dental problems can be prevented! It’s pretty great! Moreover, if you have diabetes, seeing your dentist regularly is even more important than it is for other people. Diabetes can cause a lot of oral and dental problems, so it’s essential to stay on top of your dental appointments and know your risk!
Diabetes causes dry mouth — dry mouth causes loads more problems
With uncontrolled levels of blood glucose (AKA sugar), many people with diabetes end up experiencing dry mouth. It becomes apparent to me that a patient has dry mouth if they aren’t producing a healthy amount of saliva while I clean their teeth. This is an immediate red flag since dry mouth can cause a whole list of not-fun stuff involving your teeth and gums.
This, of course, includes tooth decay, which can lead to cavities, pain, ulcers, infections and tooth loss. And, since patients with diabetes weakened defenses against infections, sores and wounds in the mouth, it takes a lot longer for them to heal from these things. If only people knew how much salvia helps guard their teeth!
A good amount of saliva is needed for oral health
Maybe you never guessed that something like saliva would be so valuable to your oral and dental health, but it certainly is. The flow of saliva in the mouth works to hydrate your oral tissues and wash away debris from food you eat so bacteria don’t overstay their welcome. Furthermore, saliva has the power to guard your teeth from plaque by neutralizing the acids before they can start eating away at your enamel! Go ahead and start thanking your saliva for saving the inside of your mouth big-time! But if you have a lack of saliva, it’s best to do something about it.
What to do about dry mouth
Since uncontrolled blood glucose levels can cause dry mouth, it’s important that people with diabetes do their best to keep those levels as steady and healthy as possible. Apart from this, there a number of treatments to try that can either act as a saliva replacement or trigger the production of it. Maybe one of these solutions will work for you!
• After eating, rinse your mouth with water
• Sip water regularly throughout the day
• Chew on gum or suck on mints with xylitol
• Use an over-the-counter self applied fluoride
• Use products that simulate saliva
• Restrict use of mouthwash with alcohol in it
• Consume less caffeine
• Use a humidifier
• Breathe through your nose
A major step toward a healthier smile
Knowing the oral health risks related to having diabetes gives you a keen edge to prevent problems with your teeth and gums. That said, nothing can replace seeing the good ol’ dentist twice a year. I think I speak for all of us dental professionals when I say, we hope to see you regularly — especially if you have diabetes!
If you have any questions for Erin or if you wish to read more of Erin’s articles? Then you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find more of her work on the Smile Brilliant Blog.