Poor Oral Health Is a Problem for People with Diabetes
Diabetes is nothing to smile about. The disease can cause serious damage to your body.
It can even harm your teeth.
Oral health problems
If you have diabetes, it is important to be aware of its complications. You may know
that you have to pay special attention to your feet and eyes. But you should add your
teeth and gums to that list.
Why? People with diabetes are more prone to infections, especially when their blood
sugar isn’t under control. High blood sugar can allow bacteria to grow in your mouth.
These bacteria, along with food particles, form plaque. Plaque is a thin film that
can build up on your teeth. If it isn’t removed, it hardens and becomes tartar. It
can then lead to tooth decay and other oral health problems.
If you don’t take care of your teeth, you may eventually end up with gum disease (gingivitis
or periodontitis). It can cause bleeding and swollen gums. It may even result in tooth
loss. People with diabetes may be more likely to lose their teeth, especially as they
grow older. That, in turn, can lower quality of life. Like any infection, gum inflammation
also makes it harder to manage your diabetes. Women with diabetes during pregnancy
are at a very high risk for gum disease.
Along with gum disease, you may also be at higher risk for other oral problems:
Burning sensation in the mouth
Thrush, a type of fungus that causes painful white patches to grow inside the mouth
Failure of dental implants, if diabetes is not well controlled
Healthy mouth tips
You can prevent many oral health problems. First, see your dentist for regular checkups.
Every 6 or less months is best. But your dentist may want to see you more often if
needed. Also be sure to tell your dentist that you have diabetes. You may need to
postpone some dental work if your blood sugar isn’t under control. Bring a snack and
your diabetes medicine with you to your dental appointment to take after your treatment.
Here are other tips for a healthy mouth:
Brush your teeth every day. Ideally, you should do so after you wake up, after every
meal, and before bedtime. Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride. It can help prevent
Floss at least once daily. Or use a dental pick. Both help remove plaque for cleaner
Keep your blood sugar at a healthy level. If you are on medicine for your diabetes,
take it as you normally would before any dental visits. Also bring a snack and source
of sugar to your visit in case you need to treat low blood sugar.
Eat a healthy diet. Limit foods that are high in sugar. They can promote plaque buildup
and hence tooth decay.
You should also check your mouth and teeth regularly for any problems. Tell your dentist
if you have pain, ulcers that don’t heal, or a loose tooth. Also watch for any of
the following signs of gum disease:
Bleeding, red, or swollen gums
Pus between your gums and teeth
Lingering bad breath or taste
Discomfort or a difference in how your teeth feel when you bite down