How Does Diabetes Affect Your Oral Health?
Do you know patients with diabetes are at a higher risk for oral health problems? If your blood sugar isn’t controlled properly, chances are oral health problems can occur. Before we explain why people with diabetes are more likely to develop oral health problems, let’s first discuss what this disease is. Diabetes affects the different parts of your body, including your eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart, and other systems that are important. Diabetes also affects your mouth… So what is the link between diabetes and oral health problems? High blood sugar…
Uncontrolled diabetes is when your blood sugar is poorly managed, which weakens the white blood cells in your body. Your white blood cells are your body’s primary defence against bacterial infections that may occur in your mouth. Controlling your blood sugar levels decreases your risk of developing oral health problems, and of course, lowers your risk of significant organ complications, including eye, heart, and nerve damage. Now, if you’re wondering which specific complications can occur as a result of diabetes, continue reading.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you’re at higher risk for the following:
Burning Mouth Syndrome
If you have burning mouth syndrome, then you can describe the feeling as “searing your mouth with hot coffee.” You may also experience tingling in your mouth or a numbing sensation. You may even partially lose your ability to taste.
Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)
When you have uncontrolled diabetes, your saliva production decreases, which results in dry mouth, dry mouth can lead to further issues such as infections, tooth decay, and ulcers. Also, as you age, your saliva production slows down, which puts you at an even higher risk for Xerostomia (dry mouth) if you have diabetes. Saliva is responsible for producing enzymes that attack bacteria; without adequate saliva, bacteria will multiply.
Do you know the main oral health problem among people with diabetes, is gum disease? Gum inflammation (gingivitis) and periodontal disease are also possible problems that can arise. Diabetes causes your blood vessels to thicken, which slows the flow of nutrients and waste products from your body’s tissues such as the mouth. Your body will lose its ability to combat infections, such as periodontal disease which is a bacterial infection. If your diabetes is uncontrolled, you can experience gum disease that is more frequent and severe than patients without diabetes. In the first stage of gum disease (gingivitis), you may have bloody, red, or swollen gums. Luckily, gingivitis is reversible, so if you’d like to stop gingivitis in its tracks, brush a minimum of twice per day, floss regularly, use an antiseptic mouthwash and consult with a dentist near you. Don’t wait for this problem to worsen because once it advances, tooth loss and bone loss are possible complications.
If you have diabetes and have undergone oral surgery or another dental procedure, your Dentist in Burnaby will inform you that your healing process will be slow. Blood flow to the treated area can cause damage for those with diabetes that is uncontrolled. To help expedite healing, be sure to keep your blood sugar in check, clean your teeth regularly, and use an antiseptic mouthwash. Also, don’t forget to visit your dental office in Burnaby for biannual dental check-ups.
Oral Thrush (Fungal Infection)
Oral thrush is a fungal infection, which affects your mouth and tongue. If you have diabetes and continue to take antibiotics to fight different infections, you are prone to developing oral thrush. Why? People with uncontrolled diabetes have high glucose levels in their saliva and fungus thrives on this. Look for red and white patches on your tongue or your inner cheeks as these are signs of oral thrush. If you wear dentures regularly, it can also trigger fungal infections. Do you know patients with diabetes who smoke are 20 times more likely to develop oral thrush and periodontal disease?
Improving Your Oral Hygiene with Diabetes
Now that you understand the effects diabetes can have on your oral health; you’ll want to learn how to prevent damage to your teeth and gums. We’ve provided three top tips below:
Manage Your Diabetes
The first step to take when it comes to improving your oral health, begins with a commitment to manage your diabetes. Follow your doctor’s instructions to keep your blood sugar levels within your target range. Remember, the more controlled your diabetes is, the lower your chances are of acquiring gingivitis and other dental ailments.
If you have diabetes, then you’re already at risk for gum disease. Smoking will only increase this risk further. Ask your Dentist in Burnaby about options to assist you in quitting this detrimental habit.
Visit Your Dentist
Don’t skip your dental check-ups. These appointments are crucial to monitor the condition of your teeth and gums. Note, your oral health is a window to your general health, so don’t take it for granted!