Diabetes patients need to pay particular attention to their Dental hygiene because they have an increased risk of dental problems due to poorly controlled blood sugars. Oral health problems occur
at a much more frequent rate for people with poorly controlled blood sugars. Diabetes impairs white blood cells, which are the body's main defense against bacterial infections. These bacterial
infections can affect everything in the mouth as well as the rest of the body.
People with Diabetes Can Face a Higher Risk of the Following:
- A decrease in the amount of saliva flow, resulting in dry mouth, which can lead to further soreness, infections, and tooth decay.
- Blood vessels thicken, which will slow the back and forth flow to and from body tissues in the mouth. This can result in a reduction in the body's ability to fight infections. Periodontal
disease is a bacterial infection so diabetics with uncontrolled disease can have more frequent and more severe gum disease issues.
- Uncontrolled diabetes sufferers do not heal quickly after oral surgery or other dental procedures because blood flow to the surgery site may be impaired.
- People with diabetes that must take antibiotics often to fight infections are prone to developing a fungal infection of the mouth and tongue. This particular fungus thrives on the high levels
of sugar in the saliva of people with uncontrolled diabetes.This fungus results in a burning sensation in areas of the mouth.
If a diabetic is also a smoker they are at a much higher risk of disease. Their risk can be as much as 20 times more likely than nonsmokers to develop thrush and periodontal disease. Smoking does
seem to reduce blood flow to the gums and this can also affect healing in the tissue area.
Because people who suffer from diabetes can be more prone to symptoms that may harm their oral health, it's important and neccessary to follow dental care practices and to notice changes in your
oral health. Promptly schedule a dental consultation if you notice changes occurring.
Some important things to think about and pay attention to:
- Blood sugar levels should be maintained as close to normal as possible.
- Let your dentist know about the status of your diabetes during visits. Let them know your a1c levels. Tell your dentist about any hypoglycemic episodes or history you may have including how
often you have these episodes and when you took your last insulin dose if you use it.
- Talk to your diabetes doctor about your diabetes before scheduling treatment for periodontal disease and let them know about the upcoming treatment. Ask your doctor to talk to your
dentist about your overall medical condition before any dental treatment is performed. If oral surgery is planned, one of them will tell you of any need to take presurgery antibiotics or if you
need to adjust your meal schedule or even if you need to change the timing and dosage of your insulin, if you take it.
- Make sure your dentist has your diabetes doctor's name and phone number included on your personal file. This info will then be on hand should your dentist have any questions or concerns
that come up.
- Make sure your dentist has a list of all your medications and the dosages you are taking. The dentist needs this information to make sure there are no conflicts in prescriptions if they
need to prescribe you any additional medications. Also if they are treating a large infection then your insulin dose and timing may need to be changed. Check with your doctor.
- Make sure that your blood sugar is under control before any non-emergency dental procedures and postpone them till it is if it is not. Although emergency conditions, such as abscesses, should
be treated right away.
- Healing may take longer in people with diabetes. Follow the dentist's instructions closely.
- Diabetes sufferers with orthodontic appliances (such as braces) should contact their orthodontist immediately if a wire or bracket results in a cut in their mouth or on their tongue
Dental Hygiene for Diabetics
- Have your gums and teeth cleaned and checked by your dentist at least twice a year.
- Use dental floss at least once a day to prevent plaque buildup.
- Brush your teeth after every meal with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- For denture wearers, remove your dentures and clean them each day.
- If you are a smoker, you should talk to your doctor about ways to quit this to improve your dental and overall health.
Feel free to contact Dr. Kevin Granger, Your Friendly with any more questions you may have about Diabetes and Periodontal Care.