The effects of diabetes can be felt throughout the body, including your mouth. For this reason, it is very important that people who are battling diabetes take care of their mouth since they face a higher possibility of having oral health issues as a result of their body’s inability to control blood sugar.
When diabetes is left unchecked, white blood cells in the body are damaged. It is these white blood cells that protect the mouth against bacterial infections.
High Risk Dental Problems Affecting Diabetes Suffers
There are certain oral health conditions that are exacerbated in people who have diabetes. These include:
The Reason for the Problem: Uncontrolled diabetes may lead to decreased saliva production resulting in dry mouth.
The Danger: A mouth that is not properly hydrated leads to ulcers, cavities, and infections.
The Reason for the Problem: Diabetes causes blood vessels to thicken, which slows down the flow of nutrients to the body as well as the removal of waste products from the body. This includes tissues in the mouth like your gums.
The Danger: When diabetes leads to gum inflammation, the result is that the body’s ability to fight gum infections is also reduced. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection. Individuals who have uncontrolled diabetes will have more frequent and more serious cases of gum disease.
The Reason for the Problem: Diabetes sufferers often need to take antibiotics to help them fight off infections. This in turn makes them more susceptible to fungal infections in the mouth and on the tongue.
The Danger: Fungus in the mouth grow at a faster rate since they thrive on the elevated levels of sugar in the saliva of people who have uncontrolled diabetes. Thrush can cause a sufferer to feel like their mouth or tongue is burning.
Diabetes Sufferers Must Take Special Care Of Their Mouth
People with diabetes are more susceptible to oral health conditions that can cause long-term damage. As a result of this, it is imperative that they pay close attention to any changes with their oral health. If changes occur, they should contact their primary physician or their dentist. Other steps that they should take include:
- Keeping Blood Sugar Levels As Normalized As Possible
- Use Dental Visits As a Way to Keep the Dentist up to Date with Your Diabetes Status
- Consult Your Diabetes Doctor Prior To Visiting the Dentist for Periodontal Disease
- Encourage Communication between Your Dentist and Your Diabetes Doctor
- Supply Your Dentist With the Names and Dosages of Medication You’re Taking
- Understand That the Healing Process Takes Longer with Diabetes
- Contact the Orthodontist Immediately If Your Braces or a Retainer Break and Cut Your Mouth
Your Mouth Is a Gateway to Your Body
Researchers are learning more and more about the connection between what happens in our mouth and our overall health. Inflammation that begins in the gums can eventually lead to problems throughout the entire body.
This connection between mouth and body is even stronger in individuals who have diabetes. When inflammation begins in the mouth, it can weaken the body’s ability to control sugar. Researchers have also seen a link between periodontal disease and the body’s ability to control and use insulin. The battle between gum disease and diabetes creates a continual cycle. Diabetes helps to create the ideal conditions for gum infections. Gum infections in turn minimize the body’s ability to use insulin, therefore worsening diabetes symptoms.
Research has shown that there is a strong link between obesity and type II diabetes, which occurs when the cells in the body have become resistant to insulin. Researchers have also seen a decrease or elimination of type II diabetes symptoms in patients who lose weight.
The good news for individuals dealing with diabetes is that if they practice good oral hygiene habits, including brushing their teeth multiple times a day, using toothpaste with fluoride, flossing on a regular basis, and working to keep their sugar intake under control, they will be able to greatly reduce the potential for periodontal disease as well as completely eliminate the risk of tooth loss.
This guest post is courtesy of The Center for Dental Excellence and Dr. Andrew Stoddard, one of the local dentists in Pocatello, Idaho. The Center for Dental Excellence offers many services for the whole family including crowns, dental implants and cosmetic dentistry.