The Diabetes- The Dental Health Connection
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high blood glucose levels, resulting from an insufficient production or inefficient utilization of insulin.
It affects millions of people around the world and has become a major health concern.
While diabetes is primarily associated with issues such as cardiovascular diseases, kidney problems, and nerve damage, its impact on dental health should not be overlooked.
Why People with diabetes are more likely to develop oral health problems?
High blood sugar is the main reason for diabetes and oral health problems. This happens because of unmanaged diabetes which weakens white blood cells. These cells are the body’s main defense against bacterial infections.
Diabetes-Related Oral Complications:
- Periodontal Disease: It occurs when bacteria in plaque build up along the gum line, causing inflammation and infection. In individuals with diabetes, this condition becomes more prevalent due to a decreased ability to fight off infection and impaired wound healing.
- Dry Mouth Or Xerostomia: Uncontrolled diabetes decreases saliva flow. The role of saliva is to wash away the food particles. Saliva helps neutralize acid produced by bacteria in the mouth.
- Thrush Or Oral Fungal Infection: Diabetics people may also suffer from caused by Candida albicans. This yeast-like fungus thrives on the elevated sugar content present in saliva and multiplies rapidly in individuals with uncontrolled blood glucose levels.
- Gum Inflammation: Higher sugar levels weaken the white blood cells. It causes blood vessels to thicken. The thickening of blood vessels further slows the flow of nutrients and waste products from body tissues, including the mouth.
- Poor Healing: People with unmanaged diabetes do not heal quickly after oral surgery. They experience delayed healing due to decreased blood flow and impaired immune function associated with their condition.
- Burning Sensation Of Mouth And Tongue: This condition is caused by the presence of fungal infection. Diabetic people who smoke are more prone to develop fungal infections inside the mouth than non-smokers.
How To Prevent Oral Health Problems?
- Keeping the blood sugar as close to normal as possible helps in preventing many related complications.
- Seeing the doctor before scheduling treatment for periodontal disease helps in planning the entire dental procedure with all the precautions.
- Bring your dentist a list of all the names and dosages of all medicines Your dentist will need to know this information to prescribe medicines least likely to interfere with the medicines you are already taking.
- Postpone non-emergency dental procedures: If your blood sugar isn’t well managed try to avoid dental procedures.
- Keep in mind that healing might take longer in people with diabetes. Follow your dentist’s post-treatment instructions closely.
How to Care teeth and gums:
- Follow the doctor’s advice about diet and medication to keep your blood glucose levels as close to the target levels as possible.
- Clean teeth and gums twice a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Use dental floss or interdental cleaners once a day to clean the teeth.
- Visit the dentist every 6 to 12 months so that they can check your mouth, teeth and gums for any signs of oral conditions.
- Avoid having a dry mouth. Drink plenty of water. Chewing sugar-free gum stimulates saliva flow inside the mouth.
- Avoiding caffeine and tobacco products helps in maintaining optimal oral hygiene.
Note: Controlling blood sugar levels within the recommended range can significantly reduce the risk and severity of oral health complications. Regular dental check-ups, proper oral hygiene practices, and early intervention for any signs of gum disease should be an integral part of diabetes management.
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