Those with diabetes are more susceptible to oral health problems due to having poorly functioning salivary glands. The issues they face in regards to their mouth are numerous, and as such a lengthy separate post is required to address each individual issue, and how proper dental care can help remedy it.
To begin, one very common occurrence in those with diabetes is to develop problems concerning the gums. It starts out in the form of gingivitis; a slightly irritating but completely reversible precursor to periodontitis (gum disease). In this stage, the gums begin to become inflamed and irritated due to the buildup of bacterial plaque along the teeth. As a result painful bleeding will often occur during brushing or flossing. The good news is that while gingivitis is always a precursor to periodontitis, not all gingivitis progresses to gum disease; but perhaps more importantly it is completely reversible. Adjusting one’s oral hygiene habits to ensure that they are both flossing and brushing daily can often make the gums completely healthy. At most, a trip to the dentist might be required in order to remove and some of the plaque which has hardened on the teeth.
Periodontitis, actual gum disease, is much more serious. At this stage the gum line begins to peel away from the teeth, and in the new space between the two bacteria enters. As it accumulates the body intervenes to fight off infections forming in the mouth. These interactions involving the antibodies and bacteria are what slowly start to destroy the teeth. Nothing outside a trip to the dentist can be done at this stage, and even then some of the damage can be irreversible. What one should aim for is preventing their gums from ever getting to the point of developing periodontitis.
While gum disease is perhaps the most worrisome oral problem those with diabetes are at higher risk for, there are still other health concerns they must be aware of. Fungal infections, such as thrush for example, are more likely to occur in the mouths of diabetics because the fungus feeds off of the high glucose levels in saliva. But it should also be noted that any sort of oral infection in general is more likely to occur in those with diabetes because of the effects of dry mouth. As with most health problems, a diabetic individual’s body will struggle more than that of the average person to overcome them. This is partially due to their poor healing, which prolongs recovery time from things such as oral infections.
There is no secret to proper oral hygiene; most of us are familiar with what we must do to keep our mouths healthy. However, those with diabetes must be more vigilant than others in this regard because they are at higher risk for many oral complications. This means rather than simply brushing twice a day, the diabetic individual should always brush after each meal. Flossing is not something which can be avoided, since those with diabetes as previously explained are at higher risk for gum disease. Dental checkups are essential in ensuring not only that the mouth stays healthy, but to also catch possible problems before they arise. Finally, those with diabetes as mentioned before are more likely to have dry mouths that greatly increase the chance of oral infections. In this regard, one should always look to keep their mouth as hydrated as possible by frequently ingesting water. more