Oral Health and Diabetes: Everything You Need To Know To Protect Your Teeth
Diabetes dental problems are extremely common, but not as well know as complications related to:
Diabetics are at increased risk for periodontal disease or an infection in the gums. If not addressed diabetes dental problems can not only make it more difficult to control your diabetes, but also can lead to an infection in the bone.
Plaque Makes Diabetes Dental Problems Worse
Diabetics are not the only people that have plaque problems, but elevated blood sugar makes it harder to get control of your diabetes oral health. Plaque uses sugar to produce bacteria and acid that eventually leads to a cavity. Because you have higher sugar levels, you run a greater risk of developing a cavity.
Dry Mouth Is Also A Diabetes Oral Health Problem
The elevated blood sugars that you have when you develop diabetes can also lead to a dry mouth. Additionally, it is thought that changes in the parotid gland in diabetics may contribute to this. While this may be mildly irritating to you on a day to day basis, it is actually a risk for diabetes dental problems. Normally, your saliva helps wash away plaque and bacteria from your teeth. When you have dry mouth, you have less saliva to help improve your diabetes oral health. As a result you are at increase risk of cavities. If it becomes sever enough, dry mouth can lead to irritation of your gums.
Fungal Infections and Your Diabetes Oral Health
Your elevated blood sugar also increases your risk for a fungal infection called candidiasis. This diabetic dental problem is also referred to as thrush. You may see white or red spots in the mouth. If you have diabetes you are twice as likely to find Candida in the mouth.
How Can I Improve My Diabetes Oral Health
The most important step in preventing diabetes dental problems and improving your diabetes oral health, is to keep your blood sugar under control. After that the recommendations are similar to those for everyone:
• Brush daily- even better after each meal. Gently brush the gums to keep them healthy.
• Floss daily using a sawing motion between the teeth. This will help remove plaque.
• Get regular dental checkups
• Tell your diabetes oral health provider (dentist or dental hygienist) if your gums hurt or have been irritated
• Quit Smoking
How Do I Know If I Am Developing Diabetes Dental Problems
If you develop any of the following symptoms you need to call or see your diabetes oral health provider:
• Red, swollen painful gums
• Bleeding gums
• Poorly fitting dentures
• Loose teeth
• Sensitive teeth
• Halitosis or bad breath
• Your teeth begin to look longer or you think your gums are receding
Bartholomew GA, Rodu B, Bell DS. Accessed December 27, 2012. Oral Candidiasis in Patients With Diabetes Mellitus: A Thorough Analysis.
Loe H, Genco RJ. Oral Complications in Diabetes. In Diabetes In America 2nd Edition.