People diagnosed with diabetes will experience irregular blood glucose levels. These irregular levels disturb the bacteria in our mouth as people living with diabetes have a lower resistance when it comes to infection and do not heal as easy. This increases the risk for gum disease and tooth decay.
Diabetes is common in Australians and affects 7.6% of the population (around 1.5 million people). An important fact that a lot of people don’t know is that the very first signs of diabetes may occur in one’s mouth. Therefore if you are diagnosed with diabetes, it is important that you pay regular attention to your dental health and oral care along with your blood sugar maintenance. This means that you should pay regular visits to your dentist for information regarding how to keep your mouth healthy.
Oral Problems Associated with Diabetes
The oral problems that are the most common with diabetics include:
- Low saliva level (dry mouth)
- Changes in taste
- Ulcers in the mouth
- Fungus infections
- Tooth decay
- Abscesses on the gums
- Periodontal disease
Gum Disease and Diabetes
Periodontal (gum) disease is the result of an infection that destroys the surrounding bone which is designed to support the teeth. This is the result of food particles along with bacteria. As gum disease progresses, teeth can become loose and either fall out on their own or need to be removed.
Fortunately, the treatment of gum disease and diabetes works two ways. The gum disease treatment will assist in the improvement of blood sugar levels, while those with proper blood sugar levels will respond better to dental treatment.
Diabetes and Other Dental Problems
A person who is living with diabetes can have an increase in their blood glucose level which, in turn, places more glucose in their saliva. This will result in unusually dry mouths. The lack of normal saliva will allow for the buildup of dental plaque, which can lead to cavities and tooth decay.
Dental plaque can be controlled by its removal through cleaning the teeth twice daily using a fluoride toothpaste and toothbrush. The use of dental floss is also important to clean in between the teeth. Additionally, schedule a dental cleaning with your dentist twice a year to give your teeth a precise clean.
Another dental problem associated with diabetes is oral thrush, which is a fungus infection. It is the result of excessive growth of yeast (Candida albicans) which naturally occurs in the mouth. Contributing to this condition is the presence of extra glucose in your saliva, dry mouth and less resistance to infections.
Caring For Your Mouth If You Have Diabetes
If you are living with diabetes, you can take good care of your mouth by doing the following:
- Drink plenty of water in order to avoid dry mouth – also chew sugar-free gum
- Avoid smoking and alcohol
- Follow your physician’s advice concerning medication and diet
- Conduct regular oral hygiene
- Visit your dentist regularly
Taking extra care of your oral health can help you avoid any additional oral problems that are associated with diabetes.