People with diabetes should be concerned about their oral health for many reasons. Diabetes increases the risk of:
The effects of diabetes may appear in the mouth as:
When gums become inflamed, the condition is called gingivitis or gum disease. It can be completely reversed with proper brushing and flossing, and perhaps dental hygiene treatments like scaling and tooth root planing. Left unchecked, inflammation can allow the gums to pull away from the teeth. Pockets of infection may form, and tissues and bone supporting the teeth break down. This is bone loss or periodontal disease. Unfortunately the bone cannot grow back.
One study reported that sixty-nine per cent of patients claimed that they had never received any oral health education specifically related to their diabetes care from any health care provider.
Only 30 per cent had talked to their dentist about their diabetes. Only 10 per cent had been told by any health care provider to see a dental hygienist regularly.
People who have diabetes are about three times more at risk for this disease process. If it has already happened, a dentist or dental hygienist can keep it from getting worse. Care includes regular dental hygiene treatment of scaling and root planing. Developing an effective oral self-care routine will help.
If you have diabetes, you are at greater risk for dental decay. Cavities are linked to the dry mouth that comes from medication side effects, or poor blood glucose control. Excess glucose can enter the mouth through saliva and other oral fluid. The mouth is naturally a warm place, and a sugar-rich environment in people with diabetes. This is a great place for bacterial plaque and fungus to thrive.
Thrush is another term for an oral yeast infection. This infection is caused by a fungus, and is often a problem for those who have diabetes. It shows as a whitish membrane on the surface of the mucous membranes of the mouth or on the tongue. It is often identified when an attempt to rub off an area that looks like a milk curd reveals a raw, red, and often bleeding base.
Like the treatment for a vaginal yeast infection, it can be treated with antifungal drugs like nystatin, in the form of medicated lozenges.
If your mouth is unhealthy, it can create more difficulty with your diabetes. The relationship between gum disease and higher blood glucose levels is bidirectional. This means high blood glucose levels affect gum disease and bone loss, and gum disease affects blood glucose levels and diabetes control. The harmful bacteria and inflammation in gum disease infections also interfere with the action of insulin.
In one study, the main barrier to oral health was limited access to care due to the extra expenses of diabetes. Visiting a dental office was considered costly, unpleasant and less necessary. Inflamed gums and tooth loss did not seem significant. Other diabetes self-care tasks, such as regular foot checks and eye exams, were seen as more important.
Many people do not know about or understand the relationship between oral health and diabetes. In fact, it is wise to discuss these issues with your health care professional and visit your dental care team regularly.
A dental hygienist does scaling and root planing therapy. This reduces the number of germs in the infected area. It will also remove deposits that encourage germs to stick. Germs change as they multiply, becoming more damaging after 90 days. For this reason, people who have diabetes and gum disease should receive dental hygiene therapy every three months.
Dental hygiene therapy has a very positive impact on those with diabetes. It should be incorporated into the standard measures for diabetes care. Dental hygienists, periodontists, and dentists can work together to help people control blood glucose levels and care for their diabetes.
Oral health plays an important role in preventing diabetes complications. If you have diabetes, safeguarding your oral health will help your overall health. Caring for your mouth is key to managing diabetes and maintaining quality of life.
As part of a good oral hygiene routine, you should: