Diabetes is a metabolic disease that results from your body's inability to produce or use insulin, a hormone that helps sugar get into the body's cells so that it can be converted into energy. When people have diabetes, their cells are unable to absorb sugar, preventing their bodies from obtaining the fuel they need and leading Diabetes affects the whole body and leads to many complications... but most people are not aware that it also includes oral health problems.
Taking care of your mouth is essential to your overall health and well-being, and that even affects your self-esteem. Good oral health habits can help prevent pain and infections caused by toothache and gum disease. If you are diabetic, looking after your teeth is even more important. Hyperglycemia can weaken white blood cells. These are your body's main ways to fight infections that can occur in the mouth. Hold that grin on your face! By managing your diabetes, you manage more than your blood sugar – you help prevent gum disease and other mouth infections.
More Than a Sweet Tooth
If your blood sugar is high, it is high in your saliva as well. Plaque bacteria, a sticky film, use sugar as their food. A portion of this bacteria can cause tooth decay, tooth decay and gum disease. If the tooth is untreated, it may also cause dental loss. Gum disease may be more serious and take longer to recover if you are diabetic. If you have a gum condition, your diabetes can be more difficult to manage. Here's a brief overview of what diabetes does to your oral health:
- It is possible that you have less saliva, which gives a feeling of dryness in the mouth. (Dry mouth (xerostomia) is also caused by some drugs like calcium channel blockers, diuretics, beta blockers, Analgesics, Muscle relaxants, Anti-Parkinson drugs, Anti-emetics and Anxiolytics.)
- Your gums can flare up and bleed frequently (signs of gum disease).
- Oral infections can take longer to recover.
Keep Your Mouth Healthy and Happy
Treatment for gum disease can help reduce your blood glucose levels over time. Regular dental visits are important for prevention of problems. Follow the diabetes treatment schedule. Make regular dental appointments for professional cleaning, X-rays and exams. Ask your dentist how often you need to have a dental examination.
Don’t Miss Your Visit
Visit the dentist on a regular basis for professional tests and cleaning. Follow your diabetes treatment schedule and stay on track.
The following are some other important tips:
- Brush your teeth at least twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste.
- Floss at least once during the day.
- Inform your dental practitioner if you have diabetes.
- If your gums are red, swollen or bleeding readily, consult your dentist. It can be symptoms of gum disease. Other symptoms include dry mouth (xerostomia), loose teeth or sore mouth.
- If you smoke, knock it off. Smoking increases your risk of gum disease and may exacerbate your diabetes.
Common Dental Problems Associated with Diabetes
Diabetes interferes with the ability of your body to fight infection and injury, and also causes persistent inflammation. Taken together, these factors increase the risk of some dental problems, particularly if you suffer from undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes. Some of the most common oral health conditions associated with the illness include:
If you have diabetes, you are 3 to 4 times more likely to develop periodontal disease. In fact, 22% of diabetics will develop periodontal illness in their lifetime. In addition, periodontal disease is worse in people with diabetes. More specifically, bone loss, dental loss and gum disease are more likely.
Gum disease begins with gingivitis, where the gums are inflamed and bleed more readily. If left untreated, this disease can lead to periodontal disease, which can result in the loss of your teeth or even your bones. Your body's reaction to severe periodontal disease may further impair its ability to regulate blood sugar levels, worsening your diabetes. So, it's important to work with your dentist to manage periodontal illness for your oral and overall health.
Dry mouth (xerostomia) is one of the most frequent signs of diabetes. The reason behind it is still unknown, but we know that hyperglycemia decreases the production of saliva. Saliva plays an important role in your oral health, so oral dryness is not only uncomfortable, but also increases the risk of gum disease and dental decay.
Diabetes interferes with the body's capacity to fight infection. This makes some oral secondary infections such as thrush more probable, and also contributes to an increased risk of gum disease and dental caries.
Impaired Wound Healing
The mouth has a remarkable capacity to take care of itself when it is damaged. The cells lining your gums are among the fastest growing in the body, and regenerate quickly when damaged. However, diabetes affects the ability of the body to cure wounds, including in the mouth.
This means that when you injure your gums – for example, eating crispy foods – these injuries will take longer to heal. You are also more likely to develop ulcers and mouth injuries.
How to overcome Diabetes-Associated Dental Problems
Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce the risk of dental conditions associated with diabetes.
Management of Diabetes
Poor control of your blood glucose levels leads to complications, including dental problems. Fortunately, there are lots of ways you can manage your diabetes. Your medical team can help you develop a diabetes management plan adapted to your needs.
You can improve your glycemic control through lifestyle changes such as avoiding certain foods, eating an appropriate diet, and exercising regularly. Weight loss and muscular development can also help manage diabetes. If you take medications for your diabetes or are insulin dependent, taking these medications regularly and administering insulin as directed will also help to manage your condition.
Good oral health at home
Good home care is the first line of defence against tooth health problems. Your dentist and dental hygienist can recommend a dental hygiene routine that best suits your needs. In general, you will want to brush twice a day – preferably after meals – floss once a day and, if possible, avoid sugary drinks and harsh treats.
Regular Dental Check-ups
If you have diabetes, it is important to have regular dental checks, ideally at least twice a year. A well-informed dentist in South Florida will be able to spot the signs of problems and help you address those problems to kill them in the bud. It is also important for your dentist and your health care team to work together to better manage your diabetes and potential oral complications. Your dentist should be kept up to date on your diabetic status and treatment. If your diabetes has worsened, it will be important to keep a closer eye on the development of dental problems and to step up preventive measures.
(Author is Post Graduate Student at Shree Bankey Bihari Dental College. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)