Hello, my name is Melody and I work at the front desk in our Pediatric Department. You may have read my previous blog post; ‘Make Brushing Fun for You and Them’ a few months back! This month, I wanted to focus on a topic that is very near and dear to my heart, type one diabetes.
I have been a type one diabetic for roughly 7 years and just like many diabetics, I still get overwhelmed sometimes. As a Type One, we have so much to focus on all at once that it can be easy to let some things slip through the cracks. Type one affects everything- our blood sugars, moods, mental state, energy levels, sleep, appetite, and as you may have guessed, our teeth too. In between the constant worries of what our blood sugar is, where our insulin cartridge is, or fighting against the dreadful low blood sugars; our teeth are in the background getting affected and trying to do their best to not add more stress to our lives.
To understand how this affects our teeth, we need to first get a good grasp on what type one diabetes is. The focus is on insulin, which is produced in your pancreas. Insulin helps regulate your blood sugars and keep them in a safe range as you eat or drink carbohydrates. There are two main types of diabetes, type one, and type two. With type one diabetics, our pancreas can no longer make insulin; while with type two diabetics, insulin is being made it just has trouble getting around. To keep your blood sugars in a safe range, your cells need to be ‘unlocked’ by using insulin as its key! With type two, the body just needs a little help getting the key, or insulin into the cell in order to unlock it. With type one diabetes, there are no keys at all and no other way to get the cells to unlock.
So how does this influence our teeth? Because Insulin has an affect across the entire body, everything gets affected in one way or another. When it comes to our teeth, it’s been found that higher blood sugars cause increased cavities, decay surrounding teeth, and swelling surrounding the gums. This doesn’t just affect children with type one, adults with higher blood sugars are more likely to get periodontal disease and, in some cases, even tooth loss. None of this is good for your health, and definitely not comfortable to be living with. That’s why it is so important to keep up to date with cleanings. This way, these issues can be caught before they get too bad.
Like I had mentioned before, it is so easy to get overwhelmed with a disease that requires all your attention all the time. The good thing about getting regular cleanings though, is that we can let the hygienists and doctors do the hard investigating. We just have to brush our teeth (ideally floss) and show up! It is one less task on our overflowing plate that we have to worry about, and that is definitely a relief.
By Melody Maltby, Front Desk Administrator