Living with diabetes can be trying in many ways. Diabetes affects multiple organs of the body, causing a multitude of health problems, one of them being dental issues. The connection between diabetes and poor dental health is primarily due to the increased levels of sugar in the body. That sugar is bad for teeth, is a pretty well-known fact by now.
Sugar or glucose present in the bloodstream can infiltrate the saliva present in your mouth. Excessive levels of glucose in your saliva creates the perfect environment for the growth of bacteria. These harmful bacteria combine with food particles in your mouth to form a thin sticky film called plaque. Plaque is the root cause for teeth and gum infections. The resultant effect of having plaque is bad breath, swollen gums and teeth decay.
Teeth infection is more likely to occur amongst diabetics because of their low resistance to infection and low healing power. Some of the common dental problems affecting people with diabetes are periodontal or gum disease, gum abscesses, tooth decay, thrush, lichen planus, ulcers of the mouth, problems with taste buds and dry mouth. Let us find out a little more about these in detail.
Periodontal or gum disease results in the destruction of the bone surrounding the teeth. This bone is the support system of the teeth, holding it into the jawbone and allowing you to chew your food. Without the supporting bone, the gums lose their structure resulting in loosened teeth. Plaque is the reason for gum disease. The hardening of plaque results in the formation of tartar, which creates a hard layer around the teeth surrounding the gum area. This, in turn, irritates the gums, causing swelling and bleeding, finally resulting in the loss of bone. the result of this is severely weakened gums and the falling out of teeth.
Another common dental problem plaguing people with diabetes is dry mouth, which happens because of the high levels of glucose in the saliva. Dry mouth can lead to multiple problems like the formation of plaque and oral fungus. Plaque as we already know causes tooth decay. The formation of oral fungus also known as thrush, which appear in the form of white or red patches in the mouth, can cause mouth ulcers. Ulcers are painful and can linger, due to the slow rate of healing in diabetics. All these combined issues can also cause bad breath and loss of taste due to the dryness of the tongue affecting the taste buds.
Diabetes is something that you cannot completely cure. But that does not mean that you cannot bring it under control and save your teeth at the same time. People with diabetes need to be extra careful about oral care and hygiene. Smoking can further aggravate symptoms of diabetes and in turn, worsen the condition of your teeth. Smoking increases dryness of the mouth, which diabetics are already plagued with. So the first step towards combating dental illness amongst diabetics is to give up cigarettes.
Diabetics also need to follow a strict diet and medication routine with regular checkups by their physician. Ask your physician to draw up a diet plan that you can follow. Getting the proper nutrients will speed up the healing process and also keep your disease in check. Once the blood glucose levels come under control, your dental health with gradually improve as well. Apart from a diabetologist, a diabetic also requires regular care from a certified dentist.
A dentist can provide you with a detailed dental care plan, as well as suggest products which can improve the health of your mouth, gums and teeth. Keep your dentist updated about your health. Share your reports, your blood-work etc. with him. That way he will know exactly the kind of special care that your teeth requires. Just regular brushing is not enough to save your teeth.
In fact, over-brushing can further wear down teeth which are already damaged. There are special toothpastes and mouthwashes which your dentist can recommend to keep your teeth in good condition. Home care is pivotal in maintaining teeth health. Even the best dentist wont be able to save your teeth if you don’t follow a regular dental routine at home.
Dental care at home includes proper brushing technique, flossing and risnsing of the mouth. Always brush your teeth using vertical movements, instead of horizontal. Horizontal brushing does not remove the dirt and debris from between the teeth and wears them down instead. Never use pressure while brushing; use strong gentle movements instead. Flossing is something that many of us think is an unnecessary procedure. But regular flossing greatly helps in maintaining the health of the gums. Small food particles, meat fibres, seeds etc. can easily get lodged between the teeth and the gums.
These particles of food can cause plaque if left unattended. Flossing is the only way to make sure that these particles get removed regularly. Rinsing is another simple and important step towards maintaining oral hygiene. Always rinse your mouth well with water after meals, after brushing and flossing. Water can remove the smallest residues which may be left behind even after flossing. Keeping the mouth hydrated is important for diabetics. So drink plenty of water and juices of fruits and vegetables.
With proper care, you can live a healthy life and maintain oral health even with diabetes. The key is in finding a routine and sticking to it.