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Diabetes (also called diabetes mellitus) is a chronic systemic disease which affects your body’s ability to process sugars in your food. As a result, a diabetic patient will have a high blood glucose (sugar) level which can cause a host of issues including problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys, and heart. Diabetes can also lower your resistance to infection and can slow the healing process. Diabetes can also affect your oral health in many different ways.

Fast Facts About Diabetes

-Diabetes is a long-term condition that causes high blood sugar levels.

-Diabetes currently affects over 371 million people worldwide and is expected to affect over 550 million by the year 2030. In the United States, a new case of diabetes is diagnosed once every 30 seconds and more than 1.9 million new cases are diagnosed each year.

Types Of Diabetes

-Type 1 Diabetes – In this type, the body does not produce insulin. About 10% of all diabetes cases are type 1.

-Type 2 Diabetes – In this type, the body does not produce enough insulin for proper function. About 90% of all cases of diabetes worldwide are of this type.

-Gestational Diabetes – In this type, pregnant females are affected

Common Diabetes Symptoms

1) Frequent need to urinate (polyuria)

2) Intense thirst (polydipsia) and hunger (polyphagia)

3) Unexpalined weight gain

4) Unusual weight loss

5) Fatigue (tiredness)

6) Cuts and bruises that do not heal

7) Male sexual dysfunction

8) Numbness and tingling in hands and feet

-If you have Type 1 and follow a healthy eating plan, do adequate exercise, and take insulin, you can lead a normal life with little to no complications.

-Type 2 patients need to eat healthily, be physically active, and test their blood glucose. They may also need to take oral medication, and/or insulin to control blood glucose levels.

-As the risk of cardiovascular disease is much higher for a diabetic, it is crucial that blood pressure and cholesterol levels are monitored regularly.

-As smoking might have a serious effect on cardiovascular health, diabetics should stop smoking.

-Hypoglycemia – low blood glucose – can have a bad effect on the patient.

-Hyperglycemia – high blood glucose – can also have a bad effect on the patient.

How Is Your Dental Health Affected By Diabetes?

-Periodontal Disease. Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, diabetics have an increased risk for developing gingivitis (earliest and most treatable form of periodontal disease), an inflammation usually caused by the presence of bacteria in plaque. Plaque is the sticky film that accumulates on teeth both above and below the gum line. Without regular dental check-ups, periodontal disease may progress if left untreated. It also can cause inflammation and destruction of tissues surrounding and supporting teeth, gums, bone and fibers that hold the gums to the teeth. Research has shown that treating periodontal disease in people with diabetes can help improve blood sugar control.

-Burning Mouth SyndromeBurning mouth syndrome is a chronic burning in the mouth without an obvious cause. The discomfort can affect your tongue, gums, lips, inside of your cheeks, roof of your mouth or widespread areas of your oral cavity. Burning mouth syndrome appears suddenly and can be severe, as if you burned your mouth.

-Fungal infections (such as thrush and oral candidiasis). Since diabetes weakens your immune system, you may be prone to developing fungal infections. Symptoms include painful sores and difficulty swallowing. If you develop a fungal infection, it is important to see your dentist as soon as possible.

-Dry mouth (xerostomia). Uncontrolled diabetes can decrease salivary flow, which can result in dry mouth. Dry mouth can further lead to soreness, oral ulcers, oral infections, and increased incidence of tooth decay.

-Infection and delayed healing. People with uncontrolled diabetes do not heal quickly after oral surgery or other dental procedures because blood flow to the treatment site can be impaired.

Dental Care Tips For Diabetic Patients

-Maintain Good Blood Sugar Levels.

-Keep your healthcare team informed including your dentist.

-See your dentist regularly for dental hygiene visits as well as oral examinations. It is recommended that you visit your dentist and hygienist at least every 6 months. For many diabetic patients, it is advised that they go on a more frequent schedule to maintain proper oral health.

-Brush and Floss Daily. This is to prevent plaque build up and keep periodontal disease away. In fact, it is recommended that diabetic patients brush following every meal to ensure good dental hygiene.

-Denture wearers should remove their dentures and clean them daily. Do not sleep in them.

-If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.

-Maintain regular visits to your diabetes doctor to ensure there are no conflicts between dental treatment and your general treatment.

-Remember that healing may take longer in people with diabetes. Follow your dentist‘s post-treatment instructions closely.

-Patients with diabetes with orthodontic appliances should contact their orthodontist immediately if a wire or bracket results in a cut to their tongue or mouth.

Conclusion

Diabetes can be a scary diagnosis but with proper monitoring and care it does not have to be. A well controlled diabetic can leave a very normal life and stay healthy for a long, long time. Dental care should never be compromised even for healthy individuals.

 

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol sweetener used as a sugar substitute. Unlike other sweeteners, xylitol is actively beneficial for dental health. It has been shown to reduce tooth decay to a third in regular use.

How does Xylitol Work for Better Dental Hygiene?

There have been numerous research studies that have shown the benefits of chewing gum sweetened with Xylitol after meals and snacks. Xylitol makes an excellent sweetener, as it has many of the same properties as regular table sugar (sucrose). However, unlike table sugar, xylitol reduces tooth cavities.

Xylitol is a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants. It contains far fewer calories than table sugar and has less of an effect on the bodies overall blood sugar levels. Xylitol has a low glycemic index of 7, compared to sugar’s level of 83. It also does not break down like sugar and can help maintain a neutral pH level in the mouth. Xylitol has the ability to inhibit the creation of acid in the mouth. By lowering the acid content in the mouth, this in turn lowers the risk of tooth decay.

Tooth decay happens when bacteria in your mouth consume the sugars we eat. When you eat food containing ordinary sugar (sucrose), it gives bacteria on your teeth energy, allowing them to multiply and start making acids that can eat away the enamel on the teeth. This acid attack causes tooth decay and cavities to begin to form.

Xylitol Gum Marielaina Perrone DDS

Xylitol Gum

Products sweetened with xylitol create an unwelcome environment for bacteria. They simply cannot stick to teeth in a xylitol rich environment.  This is how it protects the teeth from tooth decay. With Xylitol, the acid attack that would otherwise last for over half an hour is stopped. The bacteria in the mouth that are causing cavities are unable to digest xylitol, their growth is greatly reduced. The number of acid producing bacteria may decrease by as much as 90%. No acid is formed because the pH of saliva and plaque does not fall. After taking xylitol, the bacteria do not stick well on the surface of the teeth and as a result, the amount of plaque decreases. Many people are not aware of this ancillary benefit because such a claim makes xylitol into a drug. This crosses a legal boundary not allowed by the Food and Drug Administration.

It has been recommended that you chew a piece of xylitol gum after every meal or snack to gain maximum benefit to your teeth. Xylitol is recommended by dentists and physicians worldwide as a sweetener for anyone concerned with dental health, upper respiratory health, and sugar consumption, in general.

Can Xylitol Repair Damage to Enamel Too?

Research has also shown that the use of xylitol helps repair damage to the enamel. Saliva protects the mouth and teeth. Stimulated saliva in particular contains all the components needed to repair early tooth cavities. If sugar is only taken a couple of times a day, the saliva can do the job alone. But most people take sugar so often that the mouth’s own defensive tools are not enough.

Saliva that has xylitol is more alkaline than saliva stimulated by other sugar products. After taking xylitol products, the concentration of basic amino acids and ammonia in saliva and plaque may rise, and plaque pH rises as well. When pH is above 7, calcium and phosphate salts in saliva start to move into those parts of enamel that are weak. Therefore, soft, calcium deficient enamel sites begin to harden again.

Xylitol Conclusion

Xylitol can help maintain a healthy oral environment, but does not replace dental hygiene!

Xylitol can be an excellent adjunct to normal brushing and flossing coupled with regular dental visits and professional cleanings. The best part is it is quite easy to incorporate xylitol into your daily routine.