Diabetics and Dental Care
The first signs and symptoms of diabetes can occur in the mouth, so paying attention to your oral health can lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment.
People living with diabetes are vulnerable to a host of systemic problems in their entire body. Unfortunately, the mouth and teeth are not immune from such problems, and many diabetics with oral problems go undiagnosed until conditions become advanced.
Diabetes is a risk factor for severe periodontal disease. The likelihood of developing this disease is increased for those who are diabetic. In some cases, periodontal disease increases the severity of diabetes and complicates control of the metabolism and blood sugar levels needed for diabetic care.
Control of periodontal infection with the help of our team at Grandstand Dental Care who are well versed in diabetic oral health strategies is an essential component of long-term diabetes control.
How do High Blood Glucose Levels affect my teeth and gums?
When diabetes is not controlled properly, high glucose levels in saliva may help bacteria thrive. Periodontal disease often is linked to the control of diabetes. For example, patients with inadequate blood sugar control appear to develop periodontal disease more often and more severely. They also tend to lose more teeth than those who have good control of their diabetes.
High Blood Glucose Levels can cause:
- A narrowing of the blood vessels including those in the mouth, which can reduce blood supply to the gums, therefore, increasing the risk of infection and delaying healing.
- A decrease in saliva leading to a dry mouth. This can lead to an increase in the plaque and tartar build-up that causes gum disease. Saliva is very important for the health of your teeth and gums. A reduction in saliva can increase your risk of tooth decay. A dry mouth can also be caused by some common medicines.
- The release of sugars in the gingival fluid, or fluid between the tooth and gums can increase your risk of developing tooth decay.
- Diminished salivary flow and an increase in glucose levels create an attractive environment for fungal infections such as thrush. Thrush produces white (or sometimes red) patches in the mouth that may be sore or may become ulcers. It may attack the tongue, causing a painful, burning sensation. It also can cause difficulty in swallowing and compromise your ability to taste. Keeping your blood glucose levels within the recommended target range helps to avoid thrush.
Is there a two-way street?
Emerging research also suggests that the relationship between serious gum disease and diabetes is two-way. Not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to serious gum disease, but serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes. Research suggests that people with diabetes are at higher risk for oral health problems, such as gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease) and periodontitis (serious gum disease). People with diabetes are at an increased risk for serious gum disease because they are generally more susceptible to bacterial infection, and have a decreased ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums.
Diabetes can lead to important changes in the mouth. Oral infections, in turn, may adversely affect metabolic control and impact on the quality of life of people with diabetes. Missing teeth and all problems related to wearing dentures often lead to harmful effects in people with diabetes, including nutritional deficiencies, psychosocial problems, and, ultimately, deterioration in their health status and quality of life. As there is a significant two-way relationship between diabetes and oral health, our team endeavours to communicate with your medical healthcare providers in the management of your diabetes condition to ensure the best outcome.