How Diabetes Can Affect Your Oral Health

May 9, 2014Flattered Woman Smiling

It is extremely important for diabetics to practice good oral hygiene, especially individuals with type 2 diabetes. In a controlled study Elsevier Science Ireland have concluded that individuals with type 2 diabetes are found to exhibit poor oral health.

People with diabetes are more susceptible to bacterial infection, which puts them at a higher risk for developing gum disease (also known as periodontal disease). Left untreated, gum disease can destroy the bones and tissue supporting the teeth, and the patient may need a tooth extraction. To avoid this, those with diabetes should pay close attention to their oral health, looking for symptoms of gum disease such as:

• Red gums
• Swollen gums
• Bleeding gums
• Loose teeth
• Pain during chewing
• Bad breath

If you are diabetic and have these symptoms, you should see your dentist

Diabetes can affect your oral health in other ways as well. Diabetics are more likely to get thrush (also known as a yeast infection) due to high blood sugar levels and a weakened immune system. The most common sign of thrush is the presence of white lesions in the mouth, most commonly on the tongue and inner cheek. These lesions may bleed and be painful. Untreated, thrush can spread to other parts of the body, so you should visit your dentist at the first sign of thrush.

Dry mouth is more common for diabetics, often due to high blood sugar levels or as a side effect of medication. Not only does dry mouth make it difficult to eat, it can cause cavities, infection and tooth decay. Diabetics should visit their dentist regularly to treat any of these dental problems early on. You can prevent dry mouth by drinking more water, chewing on sugar-free gum or sugar-free candy, or by using a saliva substitute.

Since diabetes affects the whole body, it is imperative that diabetics take extra measures to ensure their oral health. Ways to do so include:

• Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice daily
• Flossing daily
• Going in for your continuous care appointments
• Telling your dentist if you have diabetes and what medications you take
• Controlling blood glucose levels


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