Do you know that dental problems like gum disease and tooth loss are among st the top few complications arising due to high blood sugar? Lack of proper dental care can also put you at risk of other oral health problems over time.
Considering this, a dentist becomes an important?member of a diabetic care team, who manages your dental problems arising due to high blood sugar levels!
Let?s find out more from our dental experts!
Dental care in diabetics is important because problems with the teeth and gums become more common and serious in them than in an average person, says Dr (Maj) P.S.Ahuja (Noida). These problems are so well connected that they?result into complex problems starting from the simpler ones.
Tooth decay (cavities)
We all have countless bacteria in our mouth. When starches and sugars in food interact with these bacteria, a sticky film called plaque forms on our teeth, leading to cavities. With high blood sugar levels, bacteria automatically get bigger pool of sugars and starches to act on, thereby wearing away our teeth.
Early gum disease (gingivitis)
Diabetes reduces your ability to fight bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria present for long can form a hard substance called tartar (calculus) under your gumline. This causes swelling, redness and bleeding of gums called gingivitis.
Advanced gum disease (periodontitis)
This is a more serious infection resulting from untreated gum disease. It destroys the soft tissue and bone that support teeth. This eventually causes your gums and jawbone to pull away from your teeth, causing tooth loss.
Periodontitis is more severe in diabetics because diabetes lowers the ability to resist infection and slows healing. Conversely, your blood sugar levels may also arise due to periodontitis due to less ability to fight the bacteria invading the gums, says Dr Ritu Jain (Professor, Dept. of Periodontia, CMC Ludhiana)
Improper Saliva production
Diabetes can affect your saliva production, causing cavities, bad breath, infections, soreness, ulcers and fungal infections.
Thrush (yeast/fungal infection in the mouth)
In this, the uncontrolled blood sugar results in white patches within the mouth and cracking of skin at the corner of the lips.
Burning sensation in the mouth, delayed wound healing, salivary gland enlargement and increased incidence of infections are also caused due to high blood sugar levels.
The complexity of the problem increases because diabetes?gives room for the infection to spread easily and when your body begins to fight that infection, blood sugar rises in response.
What is the role of a dentist in diabetes management?
Our dental experts Dr Ritu Jain and Dr (Maj) P.S.Ahuja, reinforce the fact that a dentist can play an essential role in managing the oral health problems of diabetics which inturn helps in controlling their diabetes.
Seeing a dentist might be considered a slightly different experience for diabetics. But, a dentist can sometimes be the first to diagnose diabetes in you after seeing your oral health. Moreover, after knowing the damaging effects of high blood sugar in your mouth, I am sure you would not like to ignore your dentist!
Tips from our dental experts
- A regular visit to a dentist can help you avoid additional dental work which may be beyond regular cleanings in the future. Professional deep cleanings done by your dentist can help lower your HbA1c readings.
- A dentist can help you avoid complications and maintain your oral health by advising you on time.
- A dentist can recommend various methods to restore moisture incase of dryness felt by the person.
- Incase of complex problems, a dentist would be imperative for dental treatments and in reducing the progression of your oral disease. Treating these diseases can help improve blood sugar control in patients living with diabetes.
Can diabetic patients undergo dental treatment?
Yes, patients with good diabetic control and those without any other serious complications can receive any dental treatment. However, treating patients with marginally or poorly controlled diabetes requires a lot of vigilance.
Though, elective dental treatments may be delayed?until the patient?s diabetes is well controlled. But, if the dental needs are urgent and blood sugar is poorly controlled, treatment can be availed in a hospital, where more medical professionals are available to manage the patient.
Diabetics with moderately controlled diabetes, can undergo dental implants, provided all other conditions are normal, says Dr Jain.
To reduce hypoglycemic episodes, it is advisable to undertake morning appointments. This is because the glucose levels are high and insulin activity is low during that time.
Recommendations for diabetics on dental care
Our dental experts say; take your diabetes and dental care seriously.
- Donot ignore symptoms like dry mouth, red, swollen or bleeding gums, unusual spacing between the teeth or an unusual color on your tongue.
- Get teeth professionally cleaned; atleast twice a year.
- If you wear dentures, clean it daily and donot sleep with them.
- If you have dry mouth, try a mouthwash without alcohol. Also, rinse daily with an antiseptic mouthwash.
- Brush your teeth after every meal
- Floss correctly?and daily to remove plaque between your teeth and under your gumline.
Managing diabetes is a lifelong commitment and that includes proper dental care too. Prevent dental problems, control diabetes ?and keep smiling!