You can get tooth and gum problems if you have diabetes. But there’s good news! The good news? Prevention is easy. Take charge of your dental health once you understand what you’re up against.
Cavities, gum disease, and other problems
Managing your blood sugar is key, whether you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. If you have high blood sugar, you’re more at risk of:
● Tooth decay (cavities). You have a lot of bacteria in your mouth. Food and drink starches and sugars interact with these bacteria to form a sticky film known as plaque. Plaque attacks the enamel and dentin on your teeth. The result is cavities and gum disease.
● You’re more likely to wear down your teeth when high on sugar and starch.
● Early gum disease (gingivitis). Diabetic people have a harder time-fighting bacteria. If you don’t brush and floss regularly, plaque will harden under your gumline into tartar (dental calculus).
● Plaque and tartar that remain on your teeth irritate the gingiva, the gum tissue around your teeth. You’ll start to bleed easily and have swollen gums. It’s known as gingivitis.
● Advanced gum disease (periodontitis). If you don’t treat gingivitis, it can lead to a more serious infection, periodontitis, which destroys your gums and teeth. Eventually, periodontitis makes your gums and jawbone pull away from your teeth, which leads to your teeth loosening and possibly falling out.
● People with diabetes tend to get periodontitis more often because diabetes makes it harder to resist infection and slows healing. Your blood sugar level may rise due to an infection such as periodontitis, making diabetes harder to control. Regular dental cleanings can prevent and treat periodontitis, which can help control blood sugar.
● Thrush. It’s a fungal infection caused by the yeast Candida albicans. Diabetes is more likely to cause thrush. There can be painful white or red patches inside your mouth if you have thrush. Keep your mouth healthy to prevent thrush.
● Dry mouth (xerostomia). Diabetes can also cause dry mouth, caused by a lack of saliva. If you don’t have saliva to wash your teeth and keep your mouth moist, you could get tooth decay, gum disease, and thrush.
Gingivitis can cause dusky red, swollen, tender gums that bleed easily, especially when brushing your teeth.
Periodontitis is a gum infection that can cause tooth loss and other serious health problems.
Proper dental care
Be sure to take diabetes and dental care seriously to protect your teeth and gums:
● Commit to managing your diabetes. Monitor your blood sugar levels to make sure they’re within range. You’re less likely to develop gum disease and other dental problems if you control your blood sugar.
● Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Ideally, brush before breakfast, at night, and after snacks. Fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush are your best bets. Keep your gums from getting irritated by vigorous or harsh scrubbing.
● Think about getting an electric toothbrush if you have arthritis or other problems that make brushing hard. You should replace your toothbrushes every three months.
● Floss your teeth at least once a day. Plaque gets removed between your teeth and under your gums when you floss. Use waxed dental floss if you can’t get it through your teeth. Use a floss holder if you have trouble manipulating the floss.
● Schedule regular dental visits. Get regular cleanings, X-rays, and checkups at the dentist twice a year.
● Tell your dentist you’re diabetic. Keep reminding your dentist that you have diabetes every time you go. Don’t forget to give your dentist the info for your doctor who helps you with diabetes.
● Look for early signs of gum disease. Any signs of gum disease – like redness, swelling, or bleeding – should be reported to your dentist. Feel free to mention anything else bothering you, like dry mouth, loose teeth, or mouth pain.
● Don’t smoke. You’re more likely to develop serious complications of diabetes, like gum disease and eventually lose your teeth if you smoke. Talk to your doctor about how to stop.
It is very crucial to monitor your diabetes and look for signs of tooth decay. The tips we’ve mentioned above can be helpful for you to keep your oral hygiene healthy. The rule of thumb is to control your diabetes. By consuming a healthy diet, you will have fewer chances of tooth problems due to diabetes.