Diabetes And Dental Care

Diabetes mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which there is insufficient production of insulin by the pancreas in your body or alternately the cells in the body do not respond to the insulin produced; both these factors result in non-absorption of blood sugar by the body cells.

This condition can be identified by symptoms such as frequent urination, excessive thirst, hunger and lethargy. Depending on the type of diabetes you might have to take either oral medications or insulin injections in addition to changing your diet.

Diabetes and oral healthcare

The condition of diabetes affects the total body functions which includes your mouth. The blood sugar level in a diabetic will be high in the mouth that can cause oral health problems. The diabetes when uncontrolled impairs the white cells in your blood which is necessary for fighting bacterial infections that can occur in your mouth. In addition to impairing white blood cells, diabetes causes thickening of blood vessels in the mouth. This further reduces the ability of the body to fight infections.

Dental problems of diabetics

Diabetics are likely to suffer from the following dental problems if they do not control their sugar level.

  • Dry mouth – lack of control of sugar level will reduce the saliva flow thereby resulting in dry mouth Dry mouth leads to infections, soreness, ulcers, and tooth decay.
  • Candidiasis or oral thrush – the diabetics in order to fight various infections often take antibiotics and this weakens their immune system thereby exposing themselves for getting infected in their mouths and tongue and this is known as candidiasis or oral thrush The fungus Candida albicans responsible for thrush outgrow at high glucose levels in the saliva that prevails normally in uncontrolled diabetics.
  • Delayed healing of oral tissues – the diabetics take longer time to heal if they undergo oral surgery or any other dental procedures; this is mainly because of the reduced blood flow to the area of treatments.
  • Cavities – many types of bacteria resides in your mouth. These bacteria interact with the starches and sugars in your diet and produce a sticky film called plaque and this film sticks your teeth. The acids in plaque attack the hard enamel in the outer surface of your teeth which might result in cavities. The diabetics will have a high blood sugar level and this means that there will be excess supply of sugar which will accelerate tooth wear out.
  • Burning mouth and/or tongue – oral thrush results in Burning mouth and/or tongue.
  • Gingivitis – this occurs when you do not remove the plaque from your teeth by proper oral hygiene; the plaque will get hardened under your gum line thereby forming tartar or calculus. The plaque and tartar will cause irritation to your gingiva which is the part of your gum around the base of your teeth. As days progress you will find that your gums become swollen and bleed easily causing gingivitis.
  • Periodontitis – If gingivitis is not treated on time the resultant infection destroys the soft tissue and bone supporting your teeth; this is called periodontitis. The effect of periodontitis is that it pulls away your gums from your teeth that might make your teeth get loosened and fall. Periodontitis affects diabetics more because diabetes reduces your resistance to infection thereby causing slow healing.

Smoking and diabetes

Diabetics who smoke are at a greater risk (20 times) for developing thrush and periodontal disease than non-smokers. In addition to this since smoking reduces the blood flow to your gums it increases the healing time of any wound in gum tissues area.

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