Dental care is an important part of diabetes care. Most people tend to think that diabetes only affects your body, but it can also affect the tissue in the mouth, gums, and teeth.
What is diabetes?
Blood glucose is the body’s main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. The levels of glucose in the blood are controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is made by the pancreas. With diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t effectively use the insulin it does make, resulting in high blood glucose, also known as high blood sugar.
When you have diabetes, high blood sugar can take a toll on your entire body, including your teeth and gums.
It is important for individuals with diabetes to take extra care of their dental health because they are at a higher risk of developing oral problems compared to those who have normal blood sugar.
Why are people with diabetes more prone to oral health problems?
The primary connection between diabetes and oral and dental health issues is poor blood sugar control. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can damage or weaken the white blood cells, leaving the body with no defense against oral bacterial infections and other problems.
What oral health risks are diabetic people prone to?
Whether you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, managing your blood sugar level is important. The higher your blood sugar h2, the higher your risk of:
Tooth Decay (cavities)
Glucose is present in your saliva and when diabetes is not controlled, high glucose levels in your saliva help harmful bacteria grow. When the bacteria interact with sugars and starches from the food and beverages you eat and drink, they form plaque, a sticky substance around your teeth. Plaque contains harmful acids that attack the surfaces of your teeth (enamel), which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Simply put, the higher the blood sugar level, the more sugars and starches linger in your mouth, and the more acid wears away your teeth.
According to the American Dental Association, those with diabetes are at a higher risk of oral candidiasis, or thrush, a fungal infection of the mouth. Also, many people with diabetes frequently take antibiotics. This increases the risk of developing fungal infections, especially around the tongue. Bacterial and fungus survive on high glucose levels in a patients’ saliva.
Also known as early gum disease, this condition damages the gums and is mostly characterized by bleeding gums. Diabetes destroys the white blood cells, which reduces the body’s immunity to bacteria. If plaque isn’t removed by regular brushing and dental cleanings, it can harden under your gumline into a substance called tartar or dental calculus. The longer this substance stays in your mouth, the more it damages your gums and the base of your teeth. This causes inflammation on the gums, making them susceptible to bleeding.
Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to a more serious infection called periodontitis, which can damage the soft tissues in the mouth and the bone that support your teeth. Diabetes lowers the ability to resist infection and slows healing. An infection such as periodontitis can also cause your blood sugar level to rise, which in turn makes your diabetes more difficult to control.
Individuals with uncontrolled diabetes may have a dry mouth due to decreased saliva. Dry mouth can also contribute to gum diseases, thrush, and tooth decay. Saliva helps keep your mouth moist and clean your teeth.
Oral symptoms of untreated diabetes
How do you know if your oral health problems are as a result of untreated diabetes? Here are some signs to watch for:
- Dry mouth or lack of enough saliva.
- Tooth decay or cavities
- Lost sense of taste
- Delayed healing of mouth sores and other wounds around your mouth
- Repeated mouth infections
- Swollen and bleeding gums
Tips for dental care with for people with diabetes
Brush your teeth regularly
Make sure that you brush your teeth at least two times a day. Better if you can brush after every meal, but if that isn’t possible, make sure you rinse your mouth with water after eating, to remove any food debris.
Floss at least once a day, more so, after your last meal, to help get rid of any food particles stuck between your teeth that are hard to reach while brushing.
Watch what you eat and drink
You should avoid sugary foods and beverages as much as possible as they are the leading cause of cavities and plaque.
Regular dental checkups
Brushing your teeth and eating healthy foods are important, but the best way to ensure oral health is to maintain regular visits to your dentist. This gives your dentist the chance to detect an underlying issue before it becomes difficult to manage.
Call JR Dental today to schedule an appointment.