Diabetes and Oral Health
Diabetes is a national crisis causing a myriad of health problems. However, many don’t realize that diabetes can put your oral health at risk too. Untreated diabetes impairs the ability to fight bacteria in the mouth. High blood sugar encourages bacteria and this can lead to gum disease. Diabetes can make you more susceptible to fillings and fungal infections or make it harder to fight off infections.
Those already diagnosed with diabetes experiencing dental problems may have symptoms of:
- Red, sore or swollen gums
- Loose teeth
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- An irregular bite
All of these dental problems can be caused or irritated by diabetes so it’s important to maintain habits to ensure blood sugar stays low. Below are some oral health care tips specific to diabetes sufferers.
Well-controlled, monitored diabetes contributes to a healthy mouth. If diabetes goes undiagnosed or blood sugar is poorly controlled, the risk of dry mouth, gum disease, tooth loss and fungal infection increases dramatically. Therefore, maintaining a healthy mouth can help manage blood sugar.
Individuals with diabetes are prone to oral infections so regular dental appointments become even more important to attend at least twice a year. Regular checkups and professional cleanings keep a mouth healthy. Let your dentist know you have diabetes and the medicines you take. That way they can advise you the most appropriate ways to care for your teeth and gums at home. They may even make a referral to a periodontist — a dentist who specializes in gum disease — if gum problems persist or seem to get worse.
Having high blood sugar can often make gum disease worse. Plaque caused by food, saliva and bacteria forms on the teeth after eating, releasing acids that attack the enamel of the teeth. Untreated plague then turns to tartar which builds under gum lines and becomes incredibly difficult to remove with flossing. The longer the tartar stays on the teeth, the more harmful it becomes. That is why diabetes suffers have to be even more stringent with their dental hygiene routine.
Steps to Take
- Make sure you brush at least twice a day and floss once a day.
- Use an antibacterial mouth rinse twice a day to help curb bacteria that can cause plaque build-up on teeth and gums.
- Check your mouth for inflammation or signs of bleeding gums. If you notice either, let your dentist know as soon as possible.
- Have your teeth professionally cleaned every 6 months, or even every 3 or 4 months. Your dentist may suggest stepping up the cleaning schedule if you tend to build up plaque or tartar quickly.
- Make sure your dentist knows that you have diabetes. Heshould have the names of all prescription and over-the-counter drugs you take to control your condition.
Also read – Diabetes and periodontal disease