Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, managing blood sugar levels is critically important to all areas of your health. When blood sugar levels are high, the higher the risk of developing health problems because the body has a much more difficult time fighting and recovering from infections.
Along with increasing the risk of developing heart, kidney, nerve, and eye conditions, diabetes also elevates the risk of problems with teeth, gums, and other areas of the mouth. By understanding the oral health conditions associated with diabetes, taking steps to control blood glucose levels, and practicing proper daily oral care, your risk for developing serious oral problems can be greatly reduced.
Diabetes Related Oral Health Problems
- Cavities and Tooth Decay – The mouth naturally contains many types of bacteria. When starches and sugars found within food and beverages interact with these bacteria, a sticky film known as plaque forms on your teeth. The acids in plaque attack the hard, outer surface of your teeth (enamel) which over time leads to the development of cavities and tooth decay. With diabetes related high blood sugar levels there is a greater supply of sugars, starches and acids to wear at teeth.
- Gum Disease (Gingivitis) – Diabetes greatly reduces the ability of the body to fight bacteria. When plaque is not removed with regular brushing and flossing, it can harden under the gumline and form a substance called tartar (calculus). The longer plaque and tartar remain on teeth, the more they irritate the portion of the gum around the base of your teeth or gingiva. Over time, the disease gingivitis occurs when gums are regularly swollen, begin to recede from the tooth, and often bleed when brushing or flossing.
- Advanced Gum Disease (Periodontitis) – When left untreated, gingivitis can lead to a more serious infection called periodontitis. Periodontitis can destroy the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth, causing tooth loss and damage to the jaw bone. As with other conditions related to diabetes, periodontitis also tends to be markedly more severe for diabetics with inadequate blood sugar control due to a lower resistance to fighting infection and slower recovery time.
- Dry Mouth – A deficiency in adequate saliva, also called xerostomia, can cause tissues in the mouth to become inflamed and sore. When left untreated, chewing, tasting, and swallowing can become painful, further complicating diet and blood sugar control.
- Fungal Infection (Thrush) – A normally benign fungus Candida albicans can become problematic in dry salivary conditions resulting from diabetes. Without adequate saliva, extra sugars in the mouth can create a yeast infection called candidiasis or thrush. Thrush creates a bitter taste, soreness, and red and white splotches in the mouth, tongue, and lips.
Diabetes Oral Heath Problem Prevention
- Practice proper oral hygiene by brushing your teeth, tongue, gums, and roof of your mouth at least twice per day. Use an appropriate pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste in conjunction with a soft, nylon, and round bristled toothbrush. Floss your teeth at least once each day and discuss with your dentist if using a mouth rinse is recommended.
- If you notice any discomfort, swelling, bleeding, or other changes to you teeth or gums when brushing and flossing, please contact your dentist to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
- To help reduce your risk of developing infections, maintain proper control of your blood glucose levels as dictated by your physician.
- Scheduling regular dental exams, professional teeth cleanings, and gum disease screenings is vitally important in assisting your dentist detect and treat problems early.
- Let your dentist know that you have been diagnosed with diabetes. Whether or not you have your condition under control and if there have been any changes in your medical history. Additionally, inform your dentist about all prescription and over-the-counter medication you are currently taking.
By practicing good oral care at home, controlling your blood glucose levels, being aware of any changes to your oral health and scheduling regular dental appointments, your dentist can tailor a comprehensive plan to help maintain your healthy smile.
For any additional questions, please contact Dorosti Family Dental in Zanesville, 740/452-3697.