For those with diabetes, there are additional factors to keep in mind when considering orthodontic treatment. Those with diabetes are twice as likely to develop gum disease because they tend to have higher glucose levels in their saliva. This leads to a higher chance of gum disease since sugar encourages bacteria growth that can create plaque.
Diabetes and Orthodontic Treatment
In addition, the prolonged high blood sugar levels common in those with diabetes can lead to issues such as brittle teeth, frequent infections, and cavities. Diabetes weakens white blood cells, which are your body’s best defense against infections, especially those in the mouth. One common symptom of diabetes is dry mouth. Saliva is your mouth’s way of washing away food particles and neutralizing tooth-decaying acids.
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the soft tissue that holds teeth in place. This infection occurs when bacteria builds up on the teeth without regular brushing and flossing. For those who have diabetes, gum disease poses a greater risk for developing kidney disease, heart disease, and stroke.
Signs of gum disease include bleeding gums when flossing or brushing (some bleeding may be expected during the first few weeks of treatment and when you are flossing more than previously, but excessive bleeding can point to a potential issue), sudden changes in your bite, sensitive teeth from receding gums, and gums that are red, swollen or tender.
Unfortunately, having the brackets and wires of braces can make keeping your teeth clean a bit more challenging, so patients with diabetes need to be even more vigilant when it comes to their oral hygiene.
Diabetes and Invisalign
If you decide to use Invisalign for your orthodontic treatment , there are a few additional things to keep in mind if you have diabetes. Frequent meals throughout the day are often recommended to help keep insulin levels steady. In order for Invisalign to be effective, the aligners must be worn around 22 hours a day. With only a short window allotted for meal times, it may take extra planning to eat more frequent meals and snacks to keep up your blood sugar level while still wearing your aligners long enough each day for the treatment to be effective. Consult your primary care doctor before undergoing orthodontic treatment to ensure you stay healthy while you work on a healthier smile.
In the end, getting orthodontic treatment, whether it’s braces or Invisalign treatment, is beneficial for people with diabetes. A straighter smile is easier to keep clean and free of plaque, which reduces the risk of gum disease.
Inform your orthodontic team of your condition before you start treatment. We are here not only to help you get your best smile, but also to make sure you stay healthy. As long as you maintain your diabetes through healthy eating and exercising habits, brush after each meal, and floss regularly, any additional risk of gum disease during treatment can be effectively minimized.