If you have diabetes, you probably know the disease can damage eyes, heart, nerves, kidneys, and more. Did you know it can also damage your dental health? The fact is that diabetics have a higher than normal risk of periodontal diseases.
Periodontal diseases are infections of the gum and bone that hold the teeth in place. In advanced stages, they lead to painful chewing problems and even tooth loss.
In this post, Alex Bratic Dental Care will explore the link between diabetes and periodontal disease. We will look at what it is, the prevention and treatment options available, and some other oral problems that are also linked to diabetes.
How does it happen?
Just as high blood glucose can create an easier pathway for infections in other parts of the body, high blood glucose levels also make it easier to get a gum or mouth infection. For diabetics, controlling blood glucose is not only key to their general health, but to their oral health as well.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gum and underlying bone that keeps your teeth in place. Unfortunately, when periodontal disease is left to progress, it can lead to worsening blood glucose control. This sets up an unfortunate feedback loop in which periodontal disease leads to diabetes, and diabetes leads to periodontal disease. Chewing can become painful, and loss of teeth may occur.
How are gum disease and diabetes related?
Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, and puts the gums at risk for gingivitis, an inflammation usually caused by the presence of bacteria in plaque. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and the simplest form of gum disease to treat. The primary cause of gingivitis is plaque – a soft, sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms constantly on the teeth and gums.
At the early stages of gum disease, the damage can be reversed, since the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place are not affected. Left untreated, however, gingivitis can become periodontitis, which can cause irreversible damage to your teeth and jaw, even leading to tooth loss.
Causes of periodontal disease in diabetics
Thickening of blood vessels supports periodontal disease.
In diabetes, blood vessels that deliver oxygen to the body thicken. This impedes the nutrient flow to, and waste glow from, tissues. In the mouth, this eventually weakens gum and bone resistance to infection, and it becomes easier for periodontal disease to take hold.
Bacteria grows easily in the mouths of people with poorly controlled blood glucose.
More bacteria in the mouth means more bacteria capable of getting into the gum and bone, which sets the stage for periodontal disease.
For smokers, things are even worse. Nicotine blocks oxygen in the blood stream to all tissues, including gum and bone in the mouth. Smokers are as much as 5 times more likely than nonsmokers to have gum disease.
Dental tips for diabetes and periodontal disease prevention
So, if you are a diabetic with high blood glucose levels, what can you do to help control your diabetes and your oral health? Alex Bratic Dental Care suggests the following:
- Keep your blood glucose in the range your doctor sets
- See your dentist for regular six month check-ups and cleanings (more often, if recommended)
- Be sure your dentist knows you have diabetes, and let them know your recent diabetes numbers
- Brush teeth at using gentle rotating motions at least twice daily with a soft bristle tooth brush (and change your brush every three months or so)
- Electric toothbrushes can remove bacteria and plaque that other brushes can’t
- Floss daily using a long piece of dental floss, working your floss along the gum line and up each tooth, and rinse well following flossing
- Use an anti-plaque mouth rinse to help prevent plaque build up (but try to stay away from rinses with alcohol content)
- Use a dental pick or brush to get between the teeth better than a toothbrush can
- Keep dentures clean, and remove them at night and get adjusted if they don’t fit properly
Other common mouth problems from diabetes include:
- Thrush. Thrush is a fungus of the oral cavity, or mouth.
- Oral burning. If blood glucose levels are not controlled, they can lead to “oral burning”. A bitter taste may accompany the burning sensation, along with dry mouth.
Beenleigh Dentist – Comfort, Convenience, and Excellent Care
Alex Bratic Dental Care in Beenleigh delivers the very best in dental services to patients of all ages.
We are located on City Road near Beenleigh Station, with convenient public transport nearby and free onsite parking.