We know that diabetes can harm your eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other important systems in your body. But did you know it can also cause dental and gum problems in your mouth?
The link between diabetes and oral problems is real, though lesser known. Diabetics are at a higher risk for periodontal or gum disease which is an infection of the gum and bone that hold your teeth in place.
Untreated periodontal disease can lead to pain on chewing and even tooth loss, if it’s left untreated. Gum disease can also more severe and take longer to heal if you are a diabetic.
Research also shows that alternatively, periodontal disease may also make it hard for you to control your blood glucose.
If your diabetes is not under control, you are more likely to develop problems in your mouth like-
- Dry mouth, a condition that happens when you do not have enough saliva—the fluid that keeps your mouth wet. It is a common symptom of undetected diabetes and can also cause mouth soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay.
- Another problem diabetes can cause is a fungal infection called thrush or candidiasis because diabetes usually causes the glucose levels in your saliva to increase. And this encourages the fungus causing thrush to grow in your mouth, leading to painful white patches.
- When diabetes is not controlled, high glucose levels in your saliva also help harmful bacteria grow in your mouth. These bacteria combine with food particles to form a soft, sticky film called plaque which causes tooth decay. Plaque also comes from eating sugary and starchy foods.
- And some types of plaque cause tooth decay or cavities and other types of plaque cause gum disease and bad breath.
- Diabetics have a higher incidence of Gingivitis which causes unhealthy, red, inflamed gums. You need regular flossing as well as cleaning at the dentists to prevent it.
What can you do?
- You must keep your blood glucose under control to prevent mouth problems. Diabetics with poor blood glucose control get gum disease more often and more severely than diabetics whose blood sugar is under control.
- If you have diabetes, you should brush and floss every day and follow this up with regular dental check-ups.
- Call your dentist when you notice a problem in your mouth. Keep observing and checking your mouth regularly for any problems. Don’t ignore minor stuff like gum bleeding during brushing and flossing. And also notice dryness, soreness, white patches, or a bad taste in the mouth. All of these are big enough reasons to visit your dentist.
- Tell your dentist if your dentures suddenly don’t fit right or if your gums are sore.
Also, take care to quit smoking. Smoking makes gum disease worse and causes dry mouth which aggravates oral problems.
Needless to add, good blood glucose control is your best defence against the oral complications of diabetes like gum disease. If you wish to discuss any specific problem, you can consult a dentist.