Diabetes and Oral Health: Tips for a Healthy Mouth
Compared to non-diabetics, people with diabetes are more likely to develop chronic disorders such as:
- Gum retraction
- Dry mouth
Also, mouth and teeth problems can be a risk element and a complicating factor in glycemic control.
Diabetes is one of the most frequent diseases. Over 400 million people are affected in the world.
Diabetes: How to Prevent Periodontal Diseases
People with diabetes are more exposed to the risk of periodontal disease, especially in phases of glycemic drops or peaks.
Various researches pointed out that diabetes has a close link with periodontitis.
For this, you must inform your dentist to keep everything under control.
Problems associated with diabetes include disorders such as thrush, an infection caused by a fungus growing in the mouth, dry mouth, infections, ulcers, and tooth decay.
When diabetic patients have gum lesions, the pathogenic bacteria inside the oral cavity may enter the body through the capillaries of the gums, causing inflammatory problems.
It is a priority to keep blood glucose levels under control and, of course, avoid smoking.
Stabilizing blood glucose levels can help prevent or relieve the dry mouth that diabetes causes.
What Oral Complications Can a Diabetic Person Expect?
Let’s start with a fact: a diabetic patient has higher risk factors related to oral and periodontal pathologies. But, if the doctor diagnosed them in time, he can effectively treat them.
Here are some tips:
- The diabetic patient must control oral infections adequately: the dentist should remove teeth with caries or periodontitis. Then replace them with dental implants. The treatment plan must ensure, above all, a good chewing function.
- In the case of therapies, the dentist must explain to the patient in detail the therapy process, the treatment plan, the required number of operations. Also, the dentist must know how much the patient is in control of blood glucose and risk factors.
- A fixed prosthesis in a diabetic patient can cause infections. The risk is even higher if the prostheses are of poor quality, causing the accumulation of bacterial plaque.
To avoid injury to the oral mucosa, both fixed and removable prostheses mustn’t have areas that can irritate the mucous membranes.
Treat your oral hygiene with the utmost care, as well as the hygiene of prostheses, to avoid the onset of fungal infections.
Visit your dentist at least every six months for tartar removal, perfect disinfection, a root planing that will remove plaque and bacteria under the gum.
Ask your dentist for the certificate of conformity of the prosthesis and check with him which material will be the best to use for your prosthesis.
- Diabetes also leads to other ailments, such as a reduction in saliva production. Your dentist can give you dietary or pharmacological bits of advice to decrease, contain, and counteract the increase in acidity and keep the mucous membranes well hydrated.
Saliva plays an essential role in our mouth:
- It keeps the oral cavity structures healthy through its buffering capacity, that is to keep the pH constant and neutral, avoiding that the acid substances we take can corrode the teeth.
- It participates in the digestion process by diluting and eliminating sugars and other substances coming through food.
- It contributes to controlling oral infections through its microbial action.
In diabetic patients, there are a couple of complications to pay attention to like sweeter saliva.
Numerous studies have shown that on average the saliva of the patient with diabetes has a quantity of glucose higher than the standard population, concerning the concentration of sugar in the blood.
On the one hand, it could be an advantage, since it could allow less invasive blood sugar control. But on the other hand, it provides fertile ground for bacterial proliferation in the oral cavity.
How can the Patient avoid all of this?
- Always check your blood glucose levels. It is of fundamental importance to follow the instructions of your doctor about the drug therapy and the diet that is most suitable for you.
- Take care of your teeth and gums. To do this, you need to brush your teeth correctly with suitable toothpaste (ask your trusted specialist for advice on which product to use) for at least 2 minutes and at least 2 times a day. Make sure you have brushed their entire surface!
- It is important to use dental floss to clean the spaces between the teeth. Ask your dentist for directions, he will be able to explain how to do it in the best way to remove as much plaque as possible.
- Make appointments for regular checkups every six months with your dentist. Teeth cleaning and an early diagnosis is essential to keep gums and teeth healthy and to avoid the irreversible damage of periodontitis.
- People with diabetes have special needs. Keep your dentist and dental hygienist informed of your state of health and of any medications you take.
- If you wear dentures, clean and remove them every day.
- Avoid dry mouth. Drinking plenty of water and chewing sugar-free gum can help stimulate saliva production.
- If you smoke, try quitting.
Dr. Nabil Mockbil is an Orthodontist who received his DDS in 2001 from Umea University in Sweden, regarded as having the best dentist programme in Sweden for undergraduates. He’s now the founder of Swedish Dental Clinic in Dubai.