Diabetes affects millions of people every year. Diabetes can cause problems with your mouth, eyes, nerves, kidneys and heart, as well as other parts of your body. It can lower your resistance to infection and slows down the healing process.
The most common oral health problem associated with diabetes is gum disease or periodontal disease.
Gum disease, is a bacterial infection of the gums, fibres, and bone that support and hold your teeth firm in the oral cavity. The main cause of this attributed to dental plaque, a sticky, colourless film that constantly forms on your teeth made up of variety of microorganisms. Toxins produced by the microorganisms in plaque irritate the gums, causing infection and pain and more commonly leads to bone loss and eventually tooth loss.
Gum Diseases is the sixth most common complication of diabetes. If you have diabetes, you are three to four times more likely to develop gum disease, and more related complications.
Periodontal disease usually makes it more difficult to gain control on your blood sugar. The diabetic person’s reaction to periodontal disease increases the blood sugar levels. Hence it is more important for people with diabetes to get treated and reduce or control gum related infections for better diabetes control. Periodontal treatment has shown to improve blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes through various researches, suggesting that treating periodontal disease could in fact decrease insulin requirements.
If your diabetes is well under control, treatment of your gum and related diseases is similar to those patients without diabetes. Diabetes retards healing and increases risk of infection. It is important that you update your dentist about your diabetic condition and the treatment you are undergoing with your physician and vice-versa on your oral condition and dental treatment, this makes both your dentist and physician can work together to help you control your diabetes and prevent and control oral diseases specially periodontal disease.
Some of the signs and symptoms of both diabetes and gum diseases are listed below which are adopted by American Dental Association (ADA.)
Constant hunger or thirst
Poor wound healing (cuts or bruises that are slow to heal)
Itchy, dry skin
Red and swollen gums that bleed often during brushing or flossing and are painful to the touch
Gums that have receded from the teeth, exposing the roots
white or yellowish plaque deposits, which are usually more in between the teeth
Pus between the teeth and gums accompanied by tenderness or swelling in the gum area
A consistent foul smelling mouth
Dull aching pain in the tooth and jaws
Periodontal disease is not the only problem that can occur in your mouth if you have diabetes. The other problems that can manifest and few are briefed below
Dry mouth: otherwise called as Xerostomia, occurs when you have insufficient saliva to keep your mouth moist, causing tissues in your mouth to become red and sore. This makes chewing, tasting, and swallowing more difficult.
Fungal infection: when you have diabetes, insufficient saliva in your mouth and extra sugars in your saliva allow the fungus to cause an infection called oral thrush. This appears as white or red areas in your mouth and sometimes painful and causes burning sensation while mastication.
Burning mouth syndrome: If you have diabetes and experience burning sensation in your mouth and cannot isolate the cause then you may be suffering from this disorder.
Make sure you keep your physician and dentist in loop regarding your diabetes and oral health related conditions and treatments. Keep in mind the following points when you visit your dentist.
Tell your dentist that you have diabetes every time you visit them.
Ensure that before you visit for dentist your blood sugar is within normal range.
Take your usual medications. Take advice and if necessary consent from your physician for any type of surgical intervention related to your oral health and submit the same to your dentist.
Regular dental check-ups and screening for dental health and treating dental problems in their initial stages is important to control the progression of periodontal disease and other oral health problems.
Your dentist may recommend more frequent evaluations and preventive procedures, such as teeth cleaning, to maintain good oral health. Additionally, brushing twice a day, flossing or using an interdental aids and usage of an good antimicrobial mouth rinse may control and prevent gum diseases. Keep an eye for the above-mentioned signs and symptoms of oral disease and diabetes and immediately contact your dentist when a problem arises.
Practice preventive oral health care procedures at home like maintaining good oral hygiene; follow your physician’s instructions regarding diet and medications, and schedule regular dental check-ups to maintain a good oral health.