Diabetes may affect the whole body, including your mouth. Dental care is essential for people having diabetes because they face a higher than normal risk of oral health issues due to poorly controlled blood sugars. Control of blood sugar is inversely proportional to oral problems, the less controlled blood sugar results in more oral health issues. This is because uncontrolled diabetes impairs white blood cells, which are the main defense against bacterial infections that can occur in the mouth.
People with diabetes face a higher risk of:
- Dry mouth: Uncontrolled diabetes can decrease saliva flow, resulting in dry mouth. Dry mouth can further lead to soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay.
- Gum inflammation: (Gingivitis and Periodontitis). Besides impairing white blood cells, another complication of diabetes is that it causes blood vessels to thicken, which slows the flow of nutrients to and waste products from body tissues, including the mouth. When this combination of events happens, the body’s ability to fight infections is reduced. Since periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, diabetics with uncontrolled disease may experience more frequent and more severe gum disease.
- Poor healing of oral tissues: People with uncontrolled diabetes do not heal quickly after oral surgery or other dental procedures because blood flow to the treatment site can be impaired.
- Thrush: People with diabetes who frequently take antibiotics to fight various infections are especially prone to developing a fungal infection of the mouth and tongue. The fungus thrives on the high levels of sugar in the saliva of people with uncontrolled diabetes.
- Burning mouth / tongue. This condition is caused by the presence of thrush.
People with diabetes who smoke are at even a higher risk for the development of thrush and periodontal disease. Smoking also impair blood flow to the gums which may affect wound healing in this tissue area.
Person having diabetes should take extra care of oral health. Some points to know are:
- Control your blood glucose and maintain it to the lowest possible level
- Brush and floss every day.
- Visit your dentist regularly. Be sure to tell your dentist that you have diabetes.
- Tell your dentist if your dentures do not fit right, or if your gums are sore.
- Quit smoking. Smoking makes gum disease worse. Your physician or dentist can help you quit.
Keep an eye on your mouth problems. Note if gums bleed when they brush and floss or any dryness, soreness, white patches, or a bad taste in the mouth. If any sign seen, visit your dentist without any delay.