Diabetes and Oral Health
People who suffer from diabetes do take care in diet and nutrition for their overall health. But do they consider their oral health? Oral care is equally important for the people suffering from diabetes. This is because they have higher risk of developing oral problems than people with normal health, but this does not mean that you need to adopt a new course of treatment. This article explains, how diabetes affects oral health and how to prevent such problems.
Effects of diabetes on oral health
The most common oral problems that affect people with diabetes are:
1) Tooth decay (cavities): Your mouth contains bacteria naturally. Minutes after you consume sugary or starchy food, these bacteria react with left over food particles of such food and forms acid. This acid attacks the enamel (first and shiny layer of the tooth), gradually dissolving the layers of tooth causing cavities. When the sugar levels are high, there will be greater supply of sugar and starches.
2) Gum disease: The ability to fight against bacteria becomes weak in elderly people who suffer from diabetes. Early stage of gum disease is otherwise known as gingivitis, and when left untreated, it will lead to advanced stage known as periodontitis.
- Gingivitis: Brushing and flossing regularly will hep remove plaque – a sticky film that forms on the surface of the teeth that contains bacteria. If you fail to do so, the plaque gets hardened under your gumline called as tartar. The longer the tartar remains on your teeth, the more it will irritate your gums leading to swollen and bleeding gums. This is an early stage of gum disease – Gingivitis.
- Periodontitis: If gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to an advanced stage of gum disease that destroys tissues and bones that support teeth. Finally, periodontitis pulls away your gums from the teeth, and causes loosening and falling of teeth. More severity is observed in people who suffer from diabetes as their ability to resist infection is lower.
3) Dry mouth: The flow of saliva gets decreased in people who suffer from diabetes and thus causes dry mouth. With this, there is a risk of tooth decay and gum disease, as saliva acts as a defense mechanism against cavities. Uncontrolled diabetes reduces saliva production severely. When saliva is absent, there are more chances of tooth decay.
4) Fungal infections: Diabetes weakens the immune system. People suffering from diabetes are more prone to fungal infections. Symptoms of such infections include sores that are painful, difficulty in swallowing, etc. This leads weakening the ability to taste.
5) Delayed healing: If there is a need of oral surgery for diabetic patients, there is delayed healing. Moreover, dentist will prescribe some antibiotics before, during and after surgery to reduce the chances of infection for keeping blood sugar levels under control.
Prevention and care
The good news is that diabetic patients can avoid dental problems that can damage teeth and gums, by taking some precautionary measures.
1) Making a commitment for managing diabetes
To keep blood sugar levels within normal/targeted range, monitor blood sugar level. Better controlled sugar level along with good oral hygiene, diabetic patients will have fewer chances of developing oral problems.
2) Looking for early signs of gum disease
If you observe any redness, swelling or bleeding gums, see dentist. In addition, if you have any signs like mouth pain, loose teeth or dry mouth, get checked by dentist without further delay.
3) Scheduling regular dental visits
Oral health is important for everyone. It is advised to visit dentist every six months. The dentist examines the mouth thoroughly and can detect problem if any. It is more important for the people who suffer from diabetes, as he checks and review changes in the medications if required.
4) Maintaining good oral hygiene
- Use a soft bristled brush for brushing the teeth, as hard bristled brush will irritate gums causing infection. Diabetic patients are also advised to brush twice a day or even after every meal.
- Floss at least once a day to remove left over food particles in between your teeth.
- Brush and clean the tongue every day.
- Avoid using a mouth rinse that contains alcohol, as alcohol can make dry mouth condition more worse.
5) If smoking, quit
As smoking ultimately brings ill-health, it is doubly important to quit smoking for people who suffer from diabetes. Smoking increase the risk of serious oral problems such as gum infections, and treating patients with diabetes becomes complicated as there is delayed healing.
Managing and controlling blood sugar levels for a diabetic patient is important. This should also include proper oral care which can lead to healthy teeth and gums for long.
Oral health is an important aspect for people with diabetes. Taking care of oral health helps your diabetes better and leads to better results of treatment.