Diabetics are more susceptible to the diseases of gums like gingivitis and Periodontitis and cavities. Simple infections are more difficult to treat in diabetics and may progress to more severe forms. Thus there needs to be a deeper understanding as to why people with diabetes need to give extra care to maintaining their oral hygiene and health.
The maintenance of optimum sugar level of blood is the most important factor in keeping your mouth healthy. Our saliva contains natural bacteria which interacts with the sugar and starches in food and beverages. The bacterial interaction with the sticky sugar in our food releases acid which attacks teeth enamel and causes decay or cavities. The greater the supply of sugar more the risk of having cavities thus the need to control blood sugar level.
Diabetes reduces your ability to fight bacteria that makes diabetics more susceptible to plaque build up on teeth. The plaque on the teeth over a longer period of time hardens into tartar. The longer the tartar and plaque remain on the teeth more the irritation to gums around the teeth that leads to bleeding and swelling of gums causing gum disease called gingivitis. The milder form of gum disease called gingivitis if left untreated develops into more severe form in which the supporting tissues around the teeth and underlying bones gets destroyed . Over time the teeth become loose and began to fall.
Diabetics are more vulnerable to bacterial infections as their body has the decreased ability to fight infections. The elevated levels of sugar in blood also delay healing process making such infections difficult to treat.
Periodontal diseases and diabetes goes both ways simultaneously. The diseases of gums make it more difficult for people with diabetes to control diabetes. Severe gum or periodontal diseases increase blood sugar contributing to increase in period of time when body functions with elevated blood sugar. This puts diabetics under the increased risk of diabetic complications.
Diabetes is also generally associated with Dry Mouth that leads to problems like soreness, cavities and infections. The fungal infection or thrush is commonly seen amongst diabetics.
All these factors highlight the essential need of improved oral hygiene and cautious approach towards good oral health in diabetics.
Few essential recommendations are mentioned below-
1) Have a complete dental check-up once every six months or as recommended by your dentist.
2) Brush your teeth at least twice a day .Spend few minutes each time to brush so you may thoroughly clean your teeth. Toothpastes with anti bacterial agent may be useful to prevent gingivitis.
3) Other oral hygiene measures like flossing of the teeth may be used. Additional oral hygiene tools like floss with holder, inter dental brushes, mouthwash are easily available and are very simple to use. This additional care goes a long way in eliminating the small particles and bacteria from the areas in mouth that otherwise cannot be reached by regular brushing.
4) Scaling and root planning is advised periodically depending on gum condition. It is a professional cleaning that removes plaque and tartar from teeth and makes the tooth surface smooth so that bacteria cannot easily stick to the teeth. The frequency of such treatment is advised by your dentist. If proper protocol is followed it can bring a conspicuous change in gum condition.
5) Keep your dentist of any changes in the condition of your blood sugar and medication you might be taking. Postpone any non-emergency dental procedure if blood sugar is not in control.
6) If you are a denture wearer remove your dentures daily and clean then properly everyday. Denture wearers have high tendency for oral thrush owing to unclean dentures.
Diabetics need to have a good communication with their dentist. Any sudden increase in blood sugar level needs to be reported to your dentist. In such case dentist would need to postpone any surgical procedure that might have been planned. The procedures like surgical removal of tooth or impacted molar may have to wait till the blood sugar level reaches within permissible range. This will helps in ensuring proper healing.
The patients who are looking for teeth replacement by implants need to know that the healing after the placement of dental implants can be affected by high sugar levels in blood. Thus there is a need to maintain optimum blood glucose levels before you schedule for placement of dental implants. In severe diabetic cases with uncontrolled blood sugar level the implants can go for a failure because of delayed and poor healing capacity of the body. However such a situation can be avoided by your communication with your dentist.