While dental hygiene is one of the most important aspects of maintaining good health for everyone, diabetics need to be extra careful as fluctuating blood glucose levels lead to various teeth and gum related problems. Looking after your teeth and gums is an essential part of living with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Not only you will be able to smile confidently but also promote perfect oral care for others as example.
Don’t forget to inform your dentist about your diabetes diagnosis along with the exact duration you have had the disease so as to help him assess frequency of your dental checkups.
Symptoms of Dental Problems in Diabetics
Fluctuating blood sugar levels can lead to severe gum and teeth related problems. Therefore a diabetic must ensure that their glucose levels remain well balanced. If you experience any of the following symptoms, inform your dentist immediately:
- Sore or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath
Common Gum Diseases and Dental Problems Among Diabetics
Gum disease or periodontitis is a condition where in the bacteria in the mouth begins to form into a sticky plaque which sits on the tooth surface. This is the sixth most commonly occurring disease in the world. Based on the severity of its development, it can be classified into the following:
The initial stage of gum disease, this type is a result of poor oral hygiene and irregular plaque removal from the teeth. Gums become swollen, red and tender and it can cause bleeding when brushing. Being reversible, a diabetic suffering from gingivitis should visit the dentist regularly and seek expert treatment.
- Mild Periodontitis
When gingivitis is not treated with care, it progresses into mild periodontitis. People with a family history of gum disease, poor oral hygiene and uncontrolled diabetes are more likely to develop mild periodontitis. This stage of the gum disease involves damage to the gums and bones supporting the teeth.
- Severe Periodontitis
This is the most advanced stage of gum disease, characterised by significant tissue and bone loss around the teeth.
A fungal infection which occurs in the mouth due to a course of broad spectrum antibiotics, thrush is common among people with poorly controlled blood glucose levels. Symptoms include white patches in mouth, redness of the tongue, cracking of the skin at the corner of your lips etc.
Dental Hygiene and Diabetes
The following tips will help maintain great oral hygiene:
- While you brush your teeth in the morning, the most important brush is the one before sleeping at night.
- Use small brushes and floss at least once a day to clean the plaque from in-between your teeth. This should preferably be done before brushing.
- Avoid sugary snacks and carbonated drinks which will help maintain healthy mouth and blood glucose levels.
- Merely using a mouthwash is not enough as it does nothing to remove the plaque on your teeth. The act of brushing is what keeps your teeth clean.
- Have only water before going to bed at night and even when you wake up at night. Bacteria multiply faster at night and hence water acts as a cleansing agent.
- Being diagnosed with gum (periodontal) disease makes it difficult to manage blood sugar levels and effective gum treatment can help improve this condition too.
- Teeth should be brushed properly for full two minutes by tilting your brush towards your gum-line and brushing in a circular motion.
- Diabetics should consider chewing sugar free gum which helps increase the saliva levels.
- Ensure you visit your dentist regularly during your treatment and then at least twice a year for optimum oral hygiene.
Managing blood glucose levels is essential for overall health, especially your oral health. Take regular readings using the glucometer and record your sugar level history in the diabetes management app to discuss your trends with your doctor as well as the dentist.