Studies show that people with diabetes are more likely to develop oral health problems, and people with oral health problems often suffer more from diabetes. The link between the two diseases is high blood sugar.
If blood sugar is poorly controlled, oral health problems become more likely.
This is partially due to the fact that diabetes can weaken white blood cells, which are the body’s main defense against bacterial infections that can occur in the mouth.
Diabetes has other systematic effects on the body that lower overall health, as well. Studies have shown that controlling blood sugar levels lowers the risk of major organ complications of diabetes — including eye, heart, and nerve damage. Similarly, diabetes control can protect against the development of oral health problems.
At DentArana we feel that it is important that our diabetic patients know about the link between the two diseases, what to look for, and what can be done.
The Health Problems
What are the dental health problems related to diabetes? People with diabetes face a higher risk of:
- Gingivitis and periodontitis— Diabetes weakens white blood cells and causes blood vessels to thicken. This slows the flow of nutrients to and waste products from body tissues, including the mouth. This combination causes the body loses its ability to fight infections. Since periodontal disease is bacterial, people with uncontrolled diabetes can experience more frequent and more severe gum disease.
- Dry Mouth – Diabetes can reduce saliva, causing dry mouth. Dry mouth can further lead to soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay.
- Thrush — People with diabetes who take antibiotics often to fight infections are prone to developing a fungal infection of the mouth and tongue. The fungus thrives on the high glucose levels in the saliva of people with uncontrolled diabetes. Wearing dentures (especially when worn constantly) can also lead to fungal infections.
- Poor healing of oral tissues— People with uncontrolled diabetes do not heal as quickly after oral surgery or other dental procedures because blood flow to the treatment site can be reduced.
- Burning mouth and/or tongue— This condition is caused by the presence of thrush. Smokers face an even higher risk — up to 20 times more likely than non-smokers to develop thrush and periodontal disease.
What Can A Diabetes Sufferer Do To Improve Their Dental Health?
As diabetics are more prone to conditions that might harm their oral health, it’s vital to follow good oral hygiene practices, pay special attention to any changes in your oral health, and call your dentist immediately if unexpected changes occur in your mouth. Suggestions to prevent or reduce oral health problems include:
- Maintain a blood sugar as close to normal as possible. At each dental visit, tell your dentist the status of your diabetes. For instance, know your glycosylated hemoglobin (HgA1C) level.
- See your doctor before scheduling treatment for periodontal disease. Ask your doctor to talk to your dentist or periodontist about your overall health condition If oral surgery is planned, your doctor or dentist will tell you if you need to take any pre-surgical antibiotics, if you need to change your meal schedule or the timing and dosage of your insulin (if you take insulin).
- Be certain to give your dentist your doctor’s name and phone number. This contact information will then be readily available for your dentist if any questions or concerns related to diabetes might arise.
- Let your dentist know the names and dosages of all medicines you are taking. Your dentist will need to know this information to prescribe medicines least likely to interfere with the medicines you are already taking.
- Put off non-emergency dental procedures if your blood sugar is not under control.
- Keep in mind that healing can take longer in people with diabetes. Follow your dentist’s post-treatment instructions exactly.
- Call your orthodontist immediately if a wire or bracket (such as those in braces) cuts your tongue or mouth.
Other Oral Hygiene Tips For People With Diabetes:
- Have your teeth and gums cleaned and checked by your dentist twice a year at least. Dentists often recommend more frequent checkups in the case of diabetes.
- Prevent plaque buildup by using dental floss at least once a day.
- Brush your teeth after each meal. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- If you wear dentures, remove them and clean them daily.
- If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.
Arana Hills Dentist – Your Partner In Oral Health
DentArana provides Family Dentistry in Arana Hills. Our goal is to make quality dental care affordable, and help you achieve maximum oral and overall health! We offer late and Saturday hours!
Pay No Gap
- NO GAP for Exam, Clean and Scale (with any health insurance) for under 17
- No Health Insurance: Only $99 for Exam, Clean and Scale (under 17’s)