Diabetes Mellitus, or simply diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar. This is happens when the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells in the body do not respond to the insulin that is produced. The the classical symptoms of Diabetes are, frequent urination (polyuria), increased thirst (polydipsia) and increased hunger (polyphagia).
3 Different Types of Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes – This type results from the body’s inability to produce insulin. This type of diabetes usually begins at a young age and requires the person to inject insulin or wear an insulin pump. This form of diabetes has also been called insulin dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes – This type results from insulin resistance. This occurs when the cells in the body are unable to utilize the insulin in the body in the right way. Can also be combined with a deficiency of insulin in the body. This form of diabetes is also called non insulin dependent diabetes or adult onset diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes – The last main form of diabetes occurs in women during pregnancy. Women who are pregnant may develop this form of diabetes and it may precede development of type 2 diabetes. Women with this form must be monitored closely for their own health as well as that of the baby.
Diabetes Effect on Dental Care
If you suffer from diabetes then you may be at a higher risk of developing many oral health issues vs people without diabetes. Diabetes increases your risk of developing periodontal disease. Diabetes reduces your ability to fight off infection. You are also more susceptible to acquiring oral infections (both bacterial and fungal) with diabetes , these infections also take longer to heal. Thrush is a common fungal infection prevalent in diabetics.
Thrush (oral candidiasis) produces red and white patches in the mouth and on the tongue. These patchy areas can progess into ulcers which cause an itching, painful, burning sensation and difficulty swallowing. Diabetes also causes dry mouth. Dry mouth allows cavity bacteria to overgrow and quickly decay teeth.
So what can a diabetic patient do?
Top 5 Dental Tips for Diabetics
1) Maintain Good Oral Hygiene at Home. It is recommended to brush your teeth twice a day at the very least. Although after every meal or snack is even better. Use a soft bristled brush or electric toothbrush with a fluoride toothpaste. Avoid aggressive brushing which can irritate your gums and lead to infection. Flossing should be done at least once per day. Flossing can be done with regular flossing or with various interdental cleaners on the market like the flosser. A good mouthwash can be recommended as well to help combat the level of bacteria in the mouth. Chew gum and try sugar free candy after meals to keep saliva flowing and acid levels down. Drink water often and keep sugary beverages to a minimum.
2) Good Control over your Blood Glucose Levels. This will help not only your oral health, but also your overall health. Maintaining good blood glucose levels will help reduce the risk of developing infections as mentioned above. If you do acquire a mouth infection you should see your dentist immediately. They can prescribe an anti fungal or antibacterial medication to treat the infection. Monitor your blood sugar level, and keep your blood sugar level within your target range as outlined by your physician. The better you control your blood sugar level, the less likely you are to develop periodontal disease and other dental issues.
3) Regular Dental Exams and Cleanings. Diabetes patients should visit your dentist 2-4 times per year for dental examinations and professional cleanings. Remember to let your dentist know that you have diabetes. This should include whether or not it is well controlled and discussing any medications you may be taking. Also, inform your dentist about any oral or dental problems you may be having, including dry mouth. To prevent low blood sugar during dental work, you might want to eat before your dental visits.
4) Denture Care. Patients who wear dentures are more prone to developing thrush. Dentures should be removed and cleaned daily. It is usually recommended to remove dentures for periods of time to give the tissues a chance to avoid irritations and to heal any irritations which might occur.
5) Do Not Smoke. Smoking is bad for the healthy individual but for those with diabetes it is doubly important to avoid smoking. Smoking increases the risk of serious diabetes complications, including periodontal disease and oral infections. If you do smoke, ask your doctor about options to help you quit. Managing diabetes is a lifelong commitment that must include proper dental care. Your efforts will be rewarded with a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.