Most people know that diabetes can affect the heart, kidneys, and nervous system. However, the dental health connection rarely receives enough attention. It seems strange, but people with diabetes are more likely to develop oral health issues.
Learning about diabetes and oral health connection could help with early diagnosis. Additionally, it will let you know more about both diseases. Therefore, keep scrolling to understand the relationship between these conditions.
The Connection Between Diabetes And Oral Health
The link between diabetes and oral health is in blood sugar. People who have diabetes need to control their sugar levels constantly. Without proper control, high glucose levels in the saliva create an ideal environment for bacteria growth. It also weakens the white blood cells, so your body loses its primary defense against infections.
Increased bacteria growth with a lowered white blood cell population makes the mouth more susceptible to inflammation and infections. This leads to an array of possible conditions and oral health issues.
What Does Diabetes Do To Your Mouth?
- Poor oral tissue healing. People with uncontrolled diabetes will suffer from poor oral tissue healing. Diabetes patients should expect more extended recovery periods since blood flow to the treatment site may be slowed.
- Affected taste. Diabetes patients will also develop a terrible taste in the mouth. It could be because of the infections developing in the mouth. The taste will be sour or bitter, and it will come with bad breath.
- Teeth erupting earlier. And finally, kids with type one diabetes will lose their teeth sooner than the average child. This leads to adult teeth erupting earlier.
Oral Health Problems Related to Diabetes
Some of the oral health problems diabetes patients develop include:
Gum Disease (Periodontitis)
Gum disease is an infection that is common among people with suboptimal blood glucose levels. These patients have lower resistance to infection and a slower healing process. Diabetes causes the blood vessels to thicken, slowing down the flow of nutrients and waste products.
Tissues in the mouth become weaker and more prone to bacterial infections—this chain of events onsets gum disease. People with diabetes are likely to develop severe redness, bleeding, and irritation on the gums.
Other symptoms of gum disease include discharge from the gums, pulling away from the teeth, bad breath and taste, and spaces opening up between the teeth.
The infection destroys the surrounding bone that supports your teeth as the disease progresses. The underlying bone is eventually lost, making the teeth lose. Patients’ teeth may fall out or will need extraction.
Tooth decay or cavities are permanently damaged areas in the teeth that turn into small holes. The condition develops due to poor oral hygiene, which leads to a bacterial infection.
People with diabetes have increased blood glucose levels in their saliva, creating an ideal environment for bacterial growth. They also have dry mouths, which cause plaque to build on the teeth.
The sugar and plaque buildup react to create an acid that erodes the enamel. Progression causes holes in the teeth. Tooth decay comes with spontaneous pain, sensitivity, pain when you bite down, and staining on the teeth.
Patients will sustain breaking and cracking without proper treatment. Some teeth also sustain too much damage, needing extraction and replacements.
Thrush or oral thrush is an infection of the mouth where the fungus Candida albicans accumulates in the mouth. It is common in babies and people with diabetes.
People with diabetes need antibiotics to fight the various infections they develop. And since fungus thrives on the high glucose levels in saliva, it creates room for fungi to grow in the mouth.
Oral thrush causes white and red patches on the tissues of the mouth. It elevates discomfort, redness, burning, soreness, and difficulty eating or swallowing. Some patients also develop bad breath.
Dry mouth (Xerostomia)
This is a condition that manifests as a parched mouth. Patients feel dryness and a feeling of stickiness, with saliva feeling thick and stringy.
Increased blood sugar levels cause dehydration in diabetes patients. This causes the patients to experience dry mouth. On top of dryness, patients will develop bad breath, sore throat and hoarseness, and taste changes. Patients who wear dentures may also have a hard time putting them in.
How to Prevent Oral Health Problems as a Diabetes Patient
As you can see, diabetes patients are more prone to oral health conditions. Therefore, they should pay attention to any changes in oral health. You can prevent and reduce oral health problems by following these tips:
- Keep blood sugar close to normal. Maintain your blood sugar at close to normal as you can. An increase in glucose in your saliva will trigger many oral complications. Therefore, monitor your blood sugar regularly and share information about your episodes with the dentist.
- Put your doctor and dentist on the same page. Next, ensure that your doctor and dentist are on the same page. Share medical files with each so they can access them easily. Additionally, let your doctor and dentist learn about any treatments you undergo so they can both give you the green light.
- Keep your dentist in the loop of all your medications. Next, ensure that your dentist knows exactly what medications you take for your diabetes. This will help the dentist prescribe you drugs that will not interfere with ongoing treatments.
- Follow dental post-treatment instructions. After undergoing a dental procedure, ensure that you follow the post-treatment instructions. Your tissues are prone to slow and ineffective healing. Therefore, you need special care to ensure they heal. Follow your dentist’s instructions carefully.
- Practice good oral hygiene. Ensure that you practice good oral hygiene. Brushing, flossing, and tongue scraping will keep your mouth clean and free from bacteria. Remember, you are prone to infections, so you should do your best to keep bacteria and fungi from growing out of control in your mouth. Good oral hygiene practices will help.
- Go for dental checkups. And lastly, ensure that you do not skip your oral health checkups. It could first help with the early diagnosis of oral health problems. Additionally, your dentist will let you know how to adjust your routine for better protection.