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Diabetes is a chronic, systemic disease and affects all parts of the body. While its effect on the nerves, eyes, kidneys, and skin is more common, their oral effects are less known. However, diabetes will vouch how they lost tooth and have dry mouth after their sugars went out of control.
- Oral Symptoms in Diabetics: There is a strong correlation between oral health and poorly controlled blood sugars. Some of the common oral indications of diabetes are as follows.
- Dry Mouth: There is less amount of saliva, which brings with it a whole lot of symptoms including soreness of the mucosa, ulcers, increased chances of infection, gum inflammation and tooth decay.
- Thrush: The saliva has higher sugar levels and attracts fungus (Candida in particular) which thrives in this dry, sugary environment. This produces a burning sensation in the mouth.
- Periodontal Disease: The gums get severely infected with gingival recession, where the gum line recedes exposing more of the tooth (tooth length seems to have increased). There is “pocket” formation, or space between the tooth and the gum which hosts a variety of bacteria. The periodontal ligament loses its strength to hold the tooth in place, and thereby teeth become mobile. If not worked upon in time, there could be multiple teeth lost.
As much as it sounds alarming, it is not. There are easy, simple ways to manage these. In fact, good overall management of diabetes will ensure the oral symptoms are also maintained under control. Following are some things to do which will help in managing diabetes in general and the oral symptoms in particular:
As soon as diabetes is diagnosed, visit a dentist to take stock of the oral health condition. Any identified problem should be treated to avoid progression.
Keep a close watch to ensure blood sugar remains as close to normal as possible.
Switch to a toothbrush with soft or extra-soft bristles. This will help reduce the pressure on the gums and thereby prevent gum bleeding
After every meal, remember to brush the teeth.
Flossing at least once a day will help remove food deposits between the teeth. Alternately, use interdental brushes.
Rinse at least twice daily using an antiseptic mouthwash.
Denture-wearers should always clean them daily and never go to sleep with the denture in the mouth.
Smoking with diabetics is a strict no-no, work on quitting at the earliest.
Visit a dentist every 3 months to ensure oral issues are identified at the earliest and treatment done with minimal intervention.
Any dental procedure should be done only when sugar levels are under control.
These will ensure not just oral health but also overall control of diabetes.