Did you know? Diabetes can affect your oral health

Diabetes is a disease in which the body's ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired which elevates the level of glucose in blood. People who have diabetes know that this disease can lead to impairment of the eyes, nerves, kidneys and heart. What they don't know is that diabetes can also hamper their oral health

Did you know? Diabetes can affect your oral health

They say, ‘Every human being is the author of their own life.’ Your lifestyle and your habits contribute a lot towards living a healthy life. A busy lifestyle, long working hours can have a negative impact on your health and it can even affect your immunity. A poor immune system can lead to diabetes as well.

People who have diabetes know that this disease can lead to impairment of the eyes, nerves, kidneys and heart. What they don’t know is that diabetes can also hamper their oral health.

It can cause various problems in your mouth. Too much glucose also called ‘sugar’, in your blood from diabetes can be the reason of pain and infection, in your mouth.

Did you know? Diabetes can affect your oral health
Dr Aarti Sharma

If not controlled properly diabetes can lead to elevated glucose levels in saliva which may help the bacteria to flourish. Plaque, a soft sticky film on your teeth, if not removed can eventually harden into tartar. When tartar collects above the gum line, it becomes more difficult to thoroughly brush and clean between teeth.

This can further lead to infection in the mouth. Since diabetes decreases the body’s resistance, the gums are among the first of the tissues likely to be affected. Periodontal (gum) diseases are infections of the gum (the ones that hold your teeth in place). It can lead to difficulty in chewing and loss of teeth.

Dry mouth is very often a symptom of undetected diabetes. This can also cause soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay. Smoking makes these problems worse. The other oral health problems associated with diabetes are tooth decay; salivary gland dysfunction; fungal infections; lichen planus and lichenoid reactions (inflammatory skin disease); infection and delayed healing; taste impairment.

How will you know if you have mouth problems from diabetes?

Check your mouth for signs of problems from diabetes. One of the first indications of gum disease is swollen, tender, or bleeding gums. Sometimes there are no signs of gum disease. You may not know you suffer from this until the damage is serious. Hence your best defence is to see your dentist twice a year for a regular cleaning and check-up.

How can you keep your mouth healthy?

Good blood glucose control is the key to controlling and preventing mouth problems. People with uncontrolled blood glucose levels get severe gum disease more often than people who have the diabetes well controlled.

Brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, regular dental check-ups and keeping a check on blood glucose levels is the best defence against the oral complications of diabetes. The dentist may also suggest the use of antimicrobial mouth wash to control gum disease.

How can you prepare for a visit to your dentist?

  • Plan ahead. Talk with your doctor and dentist before the visit about the best way to take care of your blood glucose during dental work.
  • If you take insulin or other diabetes medicines, take them and eat normally before the dental visit.
  • Carry your diabetes medicines and food with you to the dentist’s office.
  • You may have to postpone any non-emergency dental treatment if your blood glucose is uncontrolled.
  • If you get nervous about visiting the dentist, talk to your dentist and the staff about your fears and apprehensions. Your dentist can adjust the treatment plan to suit your needs. Don’t let your anxiety stop you from having regular check-ups.

The author is a BDS, MDHM at Clove Dental