Dental Problems Faced By Diabetics
Glucose in the Saliva
You will face this problem if your diabetes is not controlled. Glucose is a type of sugar, and just as dietary sugar is bad for your teeth, so is the glucose in your saliva.Sugar in your saliva as well as in your diet helps plaque to grow. Plaque is a film on the surface of your teeth produced by destructive bacteria. Some types of plaque will cause you to develop cavities while others will cause gum disease. The more sugar you have present in your saliva, the easier it is to wind up with tooth decay or gum disease.
Weakened Immune System
Diabetes weakens your immune system, which makes it difficult for your body to fight the bacteria that causes gum disease. The result is that you will be more susceptible to it than someone without diabetes. Symptoms of gum disease include bleeding and swollen gums. If it does not get treated, gum disease will only get worse. It will eventually develop into a more serious type of infection called periodontitis. This advanced infection will cause your gums to recede from your teeth; your teeth will become loose and may fall out. Your weakened immune system can also cause a fungus called thrush or oral candidiasis - to grow in your mouth. This fungus occurs naturally but your body may become unable to control it due to your diabetes.
Some of the medications that are often prescribed to diabetics come with the side effect of drying up the saliva.Additionally, one of the classic signs of diabetes is dehydration, and being dehydrated can often show up as dry mouth. Chronic dry mouth is a serious problem for diabetics and can affect their dental health. If your mouth is dry, its soft tissues may become irritated; there will also be none of the cleansing effects of saliva. The result is bad breath, discomfort, and an increased likelihood of cavities and gum disease.
Here are a few dental tips for diabetics facing the problems mentioned above:
- Visit a dentist once every six months and make sure that they are aware that you have diabetes. If you are getting treatment for gum disease, have the doctor treating your diabetes consult with your dentist about planned procedures.
- Make sure to follow the basics of oral hygiene. You should brush and floss your teeth at least twice daily. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles. If you wear dentures, it is important to remove and clean them daily. The American Diabetes Association recommends using a toothpaste that contains an antibacterial ingredient to help combat gum disease.
- If your dentist decides that you need oral surgery, be sure to take any prescribed antibiotics after the procedure.
- Try to make appointments with your dentist in the morning as this is the time of day when it is easiest to keep your blood sugar under control. However, it is not always possible to schedule a dental appointment around your blood sugar level. You should be sure to have your blood glucose meter with you so that you can check your blood sugar prior to any surgical procedures; this will help you to avoid hypoglycemia during the operation.
- If you smoke, you should start looking at ways to quit. Smoking increases your risk of getting gum disease, thrush and cavities.
- Get control over your blood glucose levels. This is one of the most important things for a diabetic to do, and is beneficial for more than just your dental health. It will help you to avoid the various complications associated with untreated diabetes such as blindness and neuropathy.
- If you already have thrush, cavities or gum disease, you should see a dentist as soon as possible. They can provide medications to treat these problems.
When you start following these dental tips for diabetics and taking care of your dental health, your risk of developing cavities, gum disease and thrush will decline to the levels of individuals without diabetes. Your oral health will improve and so will your overall health.
Darla Scheidtis the marketing director for Grove Dental Associates, a successful multi-office, multi-specialty group dental practice in the Chicago western suburbs. With four offices, over 30 doctors and having been in practice for over 40 years, Grove Dental stays on the cutting edge of dentistry to better serve patients