Does Diabetes Affect Dental Hygiene?
It could. Sure, diabetes is just one of the many chronic conditions that people learn to live with. But it can lead to health complications, including in the gums, mouth and teeth. Being aware of how diabetes affects dental hygiene allows you to keep your mouth and teeth in great shape.
How diabetes affects the teeth and mouth
1. Poor blood flow can cause gum disease: Diabetes causes blood vessels to thicken, and thickened blood vessels carry fewer nutrients to the gums than they should. They are also less effective at carrying waste away from the teeth. A possible result? Gum disease.
2. High blood sugar leads to dry mouth which allows the buildup of dental plaque and bacteria that cause tooth decay.
3. Dry mouth can also be a side effect of diabetes medication.
4. High blood sugar leads to higher glucose levels in the saliva. The glucose feeds the bacteria that cause teeth to rot. It could also feed a colony of yeast which causes oral thrush.
How diabetes treatment affects dental health
Diabetes decreases the body's immune response, making it harder for the body to fight infections. When anti-bacterial medication is taken to fight such infections, oral thrush can be an unwanted side effect. Oral thrush is a yeast infection. A side effect of some diabetes medication is dry mouth. Dry mouth can, in turn, causes tooth decay.
Signs that something might be wrong
- Persistent bad breath
- Sore, tender or bleeding gums
- In extreme cases, tooth loss
- Oral thrush
If any of these symptoms appear, the best (and only) thing to do is to book an appointment with a dentist immediately.
Simple dental care tips for diabetics
- Brush and floss twice a day
- Clean dentures thoroughly every day. Also, never sleep with dentures
- Use a toothbrush with soft bristles to avoid breaking the skin of the gum and to prevent bleeding. Sores are the nemesis of people with diabetes
- Get dental checkups at least twice each year. Remember to tell the dentist about your diabetes and any medications you may be on
- For the smokers, consider quitting. It will also do wonders for your lungs
- If the medication being taken causes any side effects, consult with the dentist and doctor to come up with an alternative or a way to mitigate the problem
- In case of oral thrush, consult with the dentist and doctor and get medication to deal with the thrush. If the thrush is a side effect of medication, ask the doctor for an alternative.
- In case of dry mouth, keep the mouth hydrated by drinking water regularly and by avoiding alcohol-based mouthwash. If medication is causing the condition, talk to the doctor about alternatives.
Diabetes does not have to complicate dental hygiene
For the most part, proper dental care requires the same things regardless of if a person has diabetes or not. Why? Because daily dental hygiene is about prevention, not treatment. Extra effort is only needed if diabetes medication causes side effects or the patient is dealing with an oral disease.
Prevention is always the best option. So the most important way to keep diabetes from affecting our teeth is to keep our blood sugar down. Simple, right? Talk to one of our dentists to learn more about how diabetes affects your oral health.
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Call (303) 502-2744 today to reach Lotus Family Dental: Yuki Dykes DDS.
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