If you're a diabetic, you already know that the condition affects your body from head to toe. You're at risk for things like blindness, foot problems, heart disease, and nerve damage. However, you may not realize that you're also at risk for dental problems like endodontal disease (inflammation or infection of the pulp inside your teeth). Not only are these infections a problem for your mouth, they can also adversely affect your condition. Unfortunately, dental problems all too often go undiagnosed and overlooked, especially if you don't see a dentist as regularly as you should. Take a look at some things that you need to know about diabetes and dental disease.
Dental Infections Will Affect Your Blood Sugar
If you're having trouble managing your blood sugar and can't figure out why, an undiagnosed dental infection may be the cause of your trouble. Endodontal disease can be a hidden infection that will cause your blood sugar to spike. And the effect is circular – not only can your dental infection cause abnormally high blood sugar levels, the high blood sugar levels can then cause more dental problems. Both your diabetes and your oral health will continue to decline until the problem is fixed.
This is why it's important to be forthcoming with your dentist about your diabetes. You need to let your dentist know that you have diabetes in the first place, and if you've been having trouble controlling your blood sugar lately, your dentist should know that as well. This will give your dentist an idea of what to look for when examining your mouth. If your dentist discovers endodontal disease, a root canal can cure the infection and put you back on the path to being able to regulate your blood sugar effectively.
Stabilize Your Blood Sugar Before Your Root Canal
If your dentist recommends a root canal, be sure to schedule the procedure for the time of day when your blood sugar tends to be most stable. For many people, this is after they've been able to eat breakfast, so avoid very early morning appointments and make sure that you eat your usual breakfast. Check with your dentist to make sure that it's OK to eat before the appointment. Most of the time, root canals only require a local anesthetic, but if you're having IV sedation, you may need to wait a certain number of hours after eating before you can have the root canal.
Your dentist may also give you a prescription for an antibiotic to take before your root canal. The antibiotic will fight off the infection so that it isn't able to spread during the root canal procedure. Make sure that you take the antibiotic according to the directions from your dentist and finish it before the day of the root canal. This can help make your blood sugar easier to control.
Bring Your Diabetic Supplies With You
Your dentist will want to confirm that your blood sugar levels are within a safe range before starting treatment, so be sure to bring your blood glucose meter to the appointment with you. You should also bring glucose tablets with you in case your blood sugar is too low.
You'll need to let the dentist know what your blood sugar level is and when you last ate. If you're having the procedure done before eating, your levels should be between 70 mg/dl to 110 mg/dl. If you're having the root canal done after a meal, your levels should be below 180 mg/dl. Having a dental procedure when your blood sugar levels are too high puts you at risk of complications like poor wound healing after the procedure.
Your diabetes may also increase your risk for post-operative complications during the recovery period, so it's important to keep your blood sugar under control in the time following the root canal. Make sure that you eat a healthy diet and follow all of your dentist's instructions regarding medication and follow-up care.