While oral hygiene is important for everyone, Diabetics are specially challenged.
Diabetes can affect all body organs – mouth, teeth and gums being no exception. Our intake of food results in various types of bacteria being almost constantly in our mouth. Poorly controlled diabetes reduces our ability to ward off infections on one hand (by weakening white blood cells), it also results in higher levels of blood sugar, which interact with these bacteria. This results in acidic substance formation (plaque), which causes wearing away of the teeth surface.
- Dry Mouth: Dry mouth is caused due to decreased saliva flow. Dry mouth can further result in soreness, infections, ulcers, and tooth decay.
- Gingivitis: Improper dental care leads to plaque formation under our gumline. If plaque persists under our gumline for a longer period of time, the gingiva – the part of our gums around the base of the teeth, tends to get irritated and can then lead to swelling and bleeding. This swelling and bleeding of gums is known as gingivitis.
- Periodontitis: Periodontitis occurs when gingivitis is left untreated. In this condition, the soft tissue and bone that supports our teeth gets damaged. This causes our teeth to loosen and eventually, fall out.
- Thrush: Diabetics who frequently take antibiotics are more likely to develop a fungal infection of the mouth and tongue. People with uncontrolled diabetes have higher levels of sugar in their saliva which provides a base for the fungus to grow. This condition may leave us with a burning sensation in our mouth.
What can we do?
- Better management of sugar levels
- Brush after every significant meal
- Rinse with a non-alcohol, anti-septic mouth wash at least once a day
- Don’t smoke. Try quitting, in case you smoke.
- Never sleep in your dentures, in case you use them.
Oral health issues can bring a lot of discomfort and problems, but the good news is – we can manage most of them reasonably well, with adequate precautions.