Diabetes has deep-reaching effects on your body’s functioning. You may have heard about the adverse effects of diabetes on organs like the eyes, heart, and nerves. But you must not overlook the connection between oral health and diabetes.
People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing oral health problems than others. The main reason for a diabetic’s susceptibility to tooth decay and gum diseases is that high blood sugar weakens the white blood cells. And weaker white blood cells cannot defend the body against bacterial infections in the mouth.
How Diabetes Affects Oral Health
Those living with diabetes are more likely to contract mouth-related infections more easily and take longer to heal. Besides taking care of their oral hygiene, diabetics should visit the dentist regularly and heed their advice for oral healthcare. If you notice any changes in your mouth, gums, or teeth – such as swelling or bleeding, visit your dentist immediately. Early diagnosis can help you get timely treatment before the problem escalates.
Common Oral Diseases Prevalent in People with Diabetes
Controlling your blood sugar levels can help you protect your teeth and gums, even as you age. However, here is a look at diabetes and oral health problems caused by it. If you or someone near you displays symptoms of these conditions, you should consult your dentist soon.
- Dry Mouth – The human mouth produces saliva to keep your teeth and tongue healthy. If your mouth is not producing the requisite amount of saliva, it may become easier for infections to take hold. Dry mouth results in ulcers, sores, tooth decay, and gum disease.
- Poor Healing of Oral Tissues – If you have had an oral infection, diabetes may slow down the healing process. It also makes it easier for infections to worsen if unchecked. That’s why patients with diabetes need longer to recover from dental surgery and treatments.
- Thrush – Thrush is the growth of fungal infections in the mouth. Unmanaged diabetes leads to high sugar levels in your saliva, which can trigger fungal growth in your mouth.
- Burning Mouth/Tongue – Some diabetics experience a lack of taste, a scalded feel, a tingling sensation, or a numb feeling in their mouths. It can result from dry mouth, thrush, or reactions to medications – especially medicines related to high blood pressure.
- Gingivitis –Gingivitis, also known as gum disease, is common among diabetes patients. If your blood sugar is not under control, your saliva may also have high sugar levels – leading to bacterial growth and gum disease.
- Infection – Fungal infections are also common among those with diabetes. If you wear dentures, smoke, or take antibiotics, you risk numerous oral infections. Take good care of your teeth with regular brushing twice daily and flossing daily.
- Periodontitis – Periodontitis is a gum disease much worse than gingivitis. If left unchecked, it can erode the bones and tissues that support your teeth. Those with diabetes should be extra careful with oral infections and gum diseases, as the damage is irreversible.
- Dental Cavities –Poor oral health and diabetes often cause cavities. The plaque built up on your teeth, due to lack of oral hygiene, promotes bacterial infections. Slowly, as the bacteria multiply, they feed on your enamel, causing cavities.
How to Prevent Oral Health Problems Despite Living with Diabetes?
Although diabetics are highly susceptible to oral diseases, there are some preventive measures you can take to ensure good oral health for life.
- Control Blood Glucose – Keeping your blood glucose levels under control long-term can help prevent oral diseases. Get your HgA1C tested regularly.
- Brush Twice a Day & Floss Daily –Regularly cleaning your teeth by brushing and flossing daily will help prevent plaque, bacterial and fungal buildup.
- Floss Once a Day – Flossing helps remove food particles or plaque between teeth. Flossing daily can be instrumental in maintaining your oral health while you undergo treatment for diabetes.
- Antibacterial Mouthwash with Fluoride – Fluoride helps clean and disinfect your teeth daily. Use an antibacterial mouthwash to rid your mouth of any trouble-causing bacteria.
- Routine Dental Checkups – Regular checkups at the dentist help keep any infections in check and ensures that if you contract an infection, it is diagnosed and treated on time.
- Beware of Ill-fitting Dentures or Sore Gums – If you wear dentures, ensure that they fit comfortably in your mouth. Ill-fitting dentures can hurt your gums or teeth, and the injury can lead to infections. Also, if you have sore gums, you should get an early consultation with your dentist to prevent infections.
- Quit Smoking – Smoking is not just harmful to your respiratory system but also to your oral health. If you have an oral disease, smoking may make it worse.
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