Diabetes and Dental Health
Dental Risks with Diabetes
Diabetes causes the mouth (and body) to become more susceptible to illness and bacterial infections due to uncontrolled insulin and blood sugar levels that cause the white blood cell count, the body's main defense system to weaken. When the body's immune system is impaired, healing and fighting off infection can become a longer process than normal. On the flip side, upon getting a bacterial infection can also cause disruption to glucose levels and make it difficult to keep blood sugar under control.
Periodontal Gum Disease and Symptoms
The most common dental risk for those with diabetes is early to advanced periodontal gum disease. Weak infection fighting capabilities mixed with the lack of regular oral hygiene can lead to a mouth full of bacteria and plaque build-up. Once plaque hardens into tartar (calculus), it accumulates along the gum-line receding, irritating, causing inflammation, and infecting the gums. Gum disease, especially minor can be painless and most people are not aware that they have it initially. Changes in one's bite and bleeding may also indicate periodontal gum disease is present.
A warm mouth with an infection make an ideal environment for an array of other conditions to develop along with periodontal gum disease.
- Dry mouth and bad breath are symptoms of Periodontal Gum Disease.
- Thrush, or overgrowth of the bacteria Candida (normally controlled by the body's defense system) grows white patches in the mouth and throat sometimes causing soreness or pain.
- Excess bacteria and plaque can cause disintegration and wear of the tooth enamel that shields and protects from tooth decay.
- An abscess can develop when the infection and tooth decay has spread to the root of a tooth.
Oral Surgery and Dentures
To avoid further complications, it is crucial to keep blood glucose levels under control before, during, and after Oral Surgery. The same need for precaution applies with Dentures or any other dental procedures that require even minimal healing of the gums. Healing after Oral Surgery or Denture placement is usually more difficult and longer for those with Diabetes (Types I & II). The need for glucose and blood to replace and re-build strong tissue is limited from Diabetes. The vulnerability to an infection or Dry Socket is also high after having a tooth pulled. If Dentures follow Oral Surgery, it may add on some discomfort and even more time for the process of acclimation to new prosthetic. People with Dentures also are likely to have more soreness not only with healing, but from chewing.
It is sometimes more difficult for people with Diabetes and Dentures to maintain a healthy diet because of the inefficiency of chewing food. Softer foods are often high in carbohydrates, sugar, and fat that if eaten in excess can create not only glucose spikes, but weight gain and more serious health problems. To comfortably eat healthy, softer fruits and vegetables and meats like chicken and fish are feasible options for people with dentures. Blending and juicing vegetables and fruits with seeds and nuts are also a great way to get vitamins and minerals through food sources without the soreness from chewing.
Prevent Dental Health Problems
People with Diabetes are two times more likely to have gum inflammation, gingivitis, and periodontitis. Taking an active approach to keeping Diabetes controlled is necessary to one's oral health and wellness and can be achieved through routine dental exams and regular oral hygiene home care. Those with previous periodontal disease or related gum problems, it may be more beneficial to receive Periodontal Treatments every three months rather than the usual recommended six month check-up.
Just as attending the dentist is important for Diabetes, attending routine visits to the designated doctor treating Diabetes and education through these visits along with personal research is very important for overall health. Providing both the treating doctor and dentist the information for one another to keep in your patient file to communicate as needed on a personalized treatment plan for you is highly advised.
Regular healthy lifestyle and oral hygiene habits at home are just as critical as routine exams for health management. A healthy lifestyle including exercising, drinking plenty of water, eating healthy and not smoking or drinking excess soda and sugars can help prevent uncontrolled glucose levels and heart problems. Regular brushing twice per day, flossing at least once per day can help prevent oral health concerns.
At the first sign of any dental issue with Diabetes, it is important to see Kansas City Dentist, John P. Goodman, DDS or your local dentist immediately to keep dental problems from worsening or causing glucose levels to become uncontrolled. If you would like more dental care tips for someone with Diabetes, call 816-842-8585 or send a message to the friendly staff of John P. Goodman, DDS for an appointment.