Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar.
When the body is unable to effectively use and store glucose, it can lead to high levels in the blood, a condition known as hyperglycemia. And hyperglycemia can have a number of negative effects on the body, including damage to the blood vessels and nerves. This damage can lead to a variety of oral health and dental issues, same as people without diabetes, but even more so!
Diabetes And Your Mouth
One of the most common oral health problems associated with diabetes is gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. Gum disease is an infection of the tissues and bones that support the teeth. It is caused by bacteria that build up in the mouth and form plaque, which can irritate the gums and cause them to become inflamed. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other serious health problems.
People with diabetes are more prone to gum disease because high levels of glucose in the saliva provide a fertile breeding ground for bacteria. In addition, diabetes can reduce blood flow to the gums, making it more difficult for the body to fight infection.
Other oral health problems that can occur in people with diabetes include:
- Dry mouth: High levels of glucose in the saliva can lead to a condition known as xerostomia, or dry mouth. Dry mouth can increase the risk of tooth decay and make it more difficult to speak and eat.
- Thrush: Diabetes can weaken the immune system, making it more prone to infection. Thrush, a fungal infection of the mouth and throat, is more common in people with diabetes.
- Burning mouth syndrome: This condition is characterized by a burning sensation in the mouth that has no apparent cause. Burning mouth is more common in people with diabetes and can be accompanied by dry mouth and a loss of taste.
- Delayed wound healing: High levels of glucose in the blood can slow the healing process, making it more difficult for cuts and sores in the mouth to heal. This can increase the risk of infection.
How To Deal?
To manage these oral health problems, it is important for people with diabetes to practice good oral hygiene, including brushing their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and using an antimicrobial mouthwash.
It is also important for people with diabetes to see a dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. During these visits, the dentist can monitor the health of the teeth and gums and provide treatment as needed. The dentist may also recommend more robust products to help control plaque and reduce the risk of gum disease.
What Else Diabetes Patients Can Do
To help prevent conditions that affect people with diabetes…
- Again, see a dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups
- Don’t delay if the dentist says that something needs attention
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Floss daily to remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth
- Use an antimicrobial mouthwash to kill bacteria
- Avoid tobacco products, which can worsen gum disease
- Eat a healthy diet that is low in sugar
- Drink plenty of water to rinse bacteria from the mouth
You’ve heard all of this before, but as a diabetes patient, it is especially important that you reduce the risks to oral health. Work closely with your healthcare team, including the professionals at our office, to manage your condition and prevent complications.
Call us with any questions! We’re here for you!