According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 425 million adults were living with diabetes in 2017. By 2045 the number is set to rise to 629 million. Diabetes has caused 4 million deaths putting it among the main causes of death in the world. The disease comes with alarming a number of complications such as stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure. It’s also a cause for blindness and amputation.
People with diabetes who have irregular blood glucose levels are at higher risk of tooth problems and gum disease, as well. That’s because of their lowered resistance to infection, which makes healing harder.
If you are living with diabetes, you need to pay close attention to your oral health and dental care, as well as controlling your blood glucose levels. Visit your family dentist regularly for advice about how to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the ways diabetes affects oral health and what can you do to avoid complications.
As we already noted above diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection and slows down the healing process. That’s why oral infections are more severe in people with the disease. Furthermore, people with uncontrolled diabetes tend to have more oral health problems.
Uncontrolled diabetes impairs leukocytes (white blood cells), the body’s primary defense against infections. It also decreases salivary flow and increases salivary glucose levels – the perfect setting for fungal infections such as thrush.
The most common health problems affecting people with diabetes are periodontitis, gum abscesses, tooth decay, fungal infections such as thrush, lichen planus, mouth ulcers, taste disturbances, and a dry, burning mouth.
Periodontal (gum) disease is caused by an infection that destroys the bone surrounding and supporting your teeth. This bone holds your teeth into your jawbone and allows you to chew comfortably. Bacteria and food debris called dental plaque are the main cause of gum disease.
When left on teeth and gums this plaque hardens and forms tartar. It irritates the gums and they become swollen and bleed. As the disease progresses, more bone is lost. The periodontal treatment has to be applied as soon as possible or teeth become loose and may fall out or need to be removed.
Gum disease is more common and way more severe in people with suboptimal blood glucose levels. That’s because of their lower resistance to infection and reduced healing capacity.
In order to prevent gum disease, it’s crucial to take care of your oral health and control your blood glucose levels. Treating periodontitis helps to improve blood glucose levels in people living with diabetes. Those with optimized oned respond very well to dental treatment.
Also called oral thrush (candidiasis) is a fungal infection, caused by an overgrowth of the yeast, Candida albicans, which occurs naturally in the mouth. Conditions caused by diabetes, such as high glucose in saliva, poor resistance to infection and dry mouth can contribute to oral thrush.
This infection causes white or red patches on the skin of the mouth. They can result in discomfort and ulcers. Good oral hygiene and optimal blood glucose levels are critical to successfully treating it. Your dentist can treat the condition by prescribing antifungal medications.
With increased blood glucose levels, people living with diabetes may have more glucose in their saliva and very dry mouths. This creates perfect conditions for dental plaque to build up on teeth, which leads to tooth decay and cavities.
Dental plaque can be successfully removed by thoroughly cleaning your teeth and gums twice a day with a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. You can additionally use mouthwash and consider deep dental cleanings with you regular checkups for best results. The key to preventing cavities and gum disease is taking good care of your teeth.
First of all, if you’re living with diabetes, the most important thing is to manage and keep your blood glucose level in check. Always follow your doctor’s instructions to make sure it’s within your target range.
Furthermore, it’s essential to take good care of your teeth and gums. Brush and floss your teeth twice daily and ask your dentist for a good mouthwash. Also never skip your regular dental appointments and make sure your dentist is aware that you have diabetes.
Additional advice is to try to avoid smoking. People with diabetes who smoke are at greater risk, as they are way more likely to develop periodontal disease than nonsmokers.
Now you know that people with diabetes are at higher risk of tooth and gum problems. It’s crucial to follow your doctor’s and a diabetes educator’s instructions in order to manage your condition.
Take special care of your oral health and control your blood glucose levels if you want to prevent gum disease. For additional questions and advice on how to protect your teeth and gums call Gallegos Family Dentistry right away. Dr. Gallegos can help you keep your smile at it’s best condition.