Diabetes and Oral Health
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a systemic disease that occurs when the level of sugar in the blood becomes higher than normal and the body cannot process that sugar. It is a silent disease that develops in its first years without symptoms. When it is controlled, the patients can live a normal life.
How can diabetes influence oral health?
People with diabetes are more prone to suffer from tooth decay and periodontal diseases (of the gums, bone, and ligaments) as well as gum diseases (periodontitis and gingivitis).
The blood vessels become denser, which makes circulation more difficult. The blood exchange in gum tissues and the maxillary bone becomes more difficult. Therefore, it will increment the fragility of the bone and surrounding tissues, which increases risk of infection and decreases defences against infectious agents. The probability of a dental infection is higher.
White cells or leukocytes are cells produced in the bone marrow and present in the blood. Their function is to protect the body or immune system against the attack of infectious agents, which may cause diseases. For diabetic people, this defence function is lower and, thus, periodontitis or gingivitis will appear more easily.
Moreover, there are bacteria that proliferate with the presence of sugar. If the glucose is not under control, saliva will increase and this level of glucose will promote bacteria development. These bacteria may cause gum diseases and bone and tissue destruction.
What are the most common pathologies in diabetics?
- As previously mentioned, if the gums are not treated in a timely manner, periodontitis will silently increase without any symptoms (pain or complaints). It may cause bone or gum recession, increase teeth mobility, and make them fall out.
- Tooth decay and gingivitis are very common.
- Fungal infection. Oral thrush, also called oral candidiasis, is characterised by white plaque in the mouth, internal cheekbone area, tongue, and throat. This condition can happen when the immune system is more vulnerable, which makes it more common in children.
- Dry mouth and a painful, burning sensation in the mouth.
How to prevent these oral diseases in diabetics?
- Schedule dental appointments every year for an oral check-up, even if you do not feel any pain or have any complaints.
- Please inform your dentist about your condition.
- Health care hygiene should be improved. As such, the teeth, gums, tongue, and internal area of the cheekbone should be brushed after meals, before bedtime, and when you wake up. You should use soft brushes, as the gums will be more fragile. It is important to carefully rub your gums with your fingertips.
- There are toothpastes and mouthwashes suitable for diabetics.
- Sugar-free chewing gum will stimulate saliva production and help solve the dry mouth issue.