Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic disorders in which either the body does not produce enough sugar controlling hormone or is not able to use the sugar controlling hormone 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. 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 Care Tips
- Firstly it is of utmost importance to control the blood sugar level. The better the sugar level 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 is arrested.
- Avoid smoking: Smoking can significantly worsen dental conditions as it causes dryness in the mouth. This causes can increase in cavities or tooth decay and gingival inflammation.
- To avoid thrush or candidiasis antibiotic usage should be controlled.
Hence diabetes and oral infections form a vicious cycle as they affect each other. Periodontitis or advanced gum disease can significantly increase the blood sugar levels thereby worsening the condition further.
On the other hand this metabolic condition has a lot of oral implications as I have already mentioned. So for diabetic patient it is very important to go for his regular dental visits and to address the first sign of tooth decay or gingival infection at the earliest.