Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic disorders in which either the body does not produce enough insulin or is not able to use the insulin in the body. This leads to high blood glucose or sugar levels. Diabetes and oral health are very closely related and form a vicious cycle. Therefore, dental hygiene for diabetics is a must.
Oral Conditions Associated with Diabetes
Some of the common oral conditions associated with high blood glucose levels are:
- Xerostomia or Burning Mouth Syndrome: This leads to dryness and a burning sensation in the gums and tongue. This leads to soreness and pain in the gums.
- Tooth Decay or Cavities : A high sugar level in the saliva causes more acid formation which leads to decay and loss of tooth structure.
- Gum Disease: Both early ( Gingivitis) and late (Periodontitis) is common in patients with uncontrolled diabetes. This leads to swollen inflamed gums, bleeding, pus discharge between the teeth. If left untreated this can progress to advanced gum infection known as periodontitis. This is more common in diabetics due to poor resistance to infection.
- Thrush or Oral candidiasis: This condition develops due to high blood sugar levels and frequent antibiotic usage. This is a fungal infection in which a dry mouth and high sugar levels create a breeding ground. This results in red and white patches which turn into ulcers.
- Delayed healing: Wound healing or healing after any surgical procedure is delayed in patients with high blood sugar levels. This happens due to lack of blood supply to the tissues.
Dental Hygiene For Diabetics – Tips
- Controlled sugar levels: Firstly it is of utmost importance to control the blood sugar level. The better the sugar levels are the less likely that dental infections will occur.
- Good oral hygiene: Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily – this prevents the accumulation of plaque between the gum line and teeth, rinsing daily with an antiseptic alcohol free mouthwash.
- Regular dental checkup and maintenance: This ensures that no dental disease develops and early signs of gum disease are arrested.
- Avoid smoking: Smoking can significantly worsen dental conditions as it causes dryness in the mouth. This causes an increase in cavities or tooth decay and gingival inflammation.
- Limited usage of medication: To avoid thrush or candidiasis antibiotic usage should be controlled.
Diabetes and oral infections form a vicious cycle and can affect each other. Periodontitis or advanced gum disease can significantly increase the blood sugar levels thereby worsening the condition further.
So for a diabetic patient it is very important to go for their regular dental visits and address signs of tooth decay or gingival infection at the earliest.
Dr. Gargi Basu Kandhari is a reputed and certified dentist
from the Dental Council of India (A9391).