Scientific evidence has shown that there is a link between diabetes and an increase chance of oral health problems. Although it is a disease that affects your entire body-- from your liver, to your muscles, to your heart-- it also can have effect on the well-being of your teeth and gums.
The crux of the problem is poor blood sugar management-- when this is not effectively managed, it can result in weakened white blood cells-- which are the main line of defense against bacteria. If your body cannot properly maintain white blood cell count, it can lead to infections-- and that includes in the mouth and gums as well.
In this article, we’re going to examine:
As we mentioned above, the link between diabetes and oral health problems comes from blood sugar management. If your diabetes is not managed properly or consistently, it can lead to an improper function of white blood cells. When these are cells are unable to fight off bacteria, infections are very common. Diabetes itself does not cause the problems of infection or tooth decay-- it is incorrect management of blood sugar that does. Too high blood sugar can lead to a whole set of problems in diabetics, including:
High blood sugar also weakens white blood cells which help your body fight bacterial infections-- and is true for the body as a whole. But it also affects how you can fight any infection in your mouth and gums. Having low blood sugar is also a problem for diabetics as well, and can have an affect on how your body fights infection as well.
Proper blood sugar management is usually done with a blood glucose monitoring kit requiring a drop of blood to be place on a testing strip. It is crucial for diabetics to monitor their blood sugar level, that way they can compensate if their sugar is too low or too high. Learning to correctly manage this is the first step towards having better oral hygiene-- and a better defense against future infections.
There is a common misconception that diabetics are more prone to cavities or losing teeth-- but this is simply not the case. People with well-controlled blood sugar are no more likely to develop a cavity or have a tooth decay than people without diabetes. It comes down to proper glucose management-- and due to poor blood sugar management, people with diabetes are much more prone to:
Saliva is crucial to the well being of your mouth and gums. It acts as an agent that removes and flushes out harmful bacteria from your mouth. If your body’s ability to fight infection is already low, having a dry mouth will only make matters worse. Consistent dry mouth can lead to soreness, infections, and tooth decay-- not to mention create a breeding ground for bacteria.
If you are on medications where a side effect is dry mouth, it is very important that you work to keep your blood sugar in check-- any deviation will only increase your chances of sustaining an infection in your mouth. Saliva is also protective of tooth enamel, and without it, you are much more prone to a cavity.
Diabetics who mismanage their blood glucose are more prone to bleeding gums (gingivitis), which can be a painful and uncomfortable experience. Diabetes can also cause blood vessels to thicken-- and this includes in the mouth as well. It slows nutrients and makes it more difficult for the body to get rid of waste-- increasing the risk of an infection. Gum disease can manifest quicker and more severely in diabetics as well.
Diabetics tend to heal more slowly after any oral surgery or dental engagements-- this is due to the fact that the blood flow is altered and not operating in an efficient way. Even a trip for a cleaning can be painful or result in poor healing if the gums were bothered by the dental hygienist's tools.
Dentists should take care when doing any procedures on a diabetic who may have poorly managed blood sugar. Poor healing of the tissue is one of the reasons for this. Implanting a crown or a filling should be held off until the person can get their diabetes back under control.
People with diabetes may be on antibiotics to deal with bacterial infections. This also makes them more prone to fungal infections in the mouth and on the tongue. Dentures are another way for a fungus to gain a foothold in your mouth. If you are constantly wearing them-- or not cleaning them properly-- it can introduce this type of infection to the mouth and gums.
Diabetics should talk with their doctor and learn to manage their diabetes-- it can help them live a much better life. Because this disease affects so much more than just oral health, proper management is key. Here are some tips for diabetics for better oral health management:
If you have diabetes, it is imperative that you maintain a good routine of proper oral hygiene. You body needs all the help it can get against infection-- even in your mouth. If you don’t have diabetes, is still important to take care of your teeth and gums so that they can stay healthy and last you a lifetime!