In 2020, an estimated 463 million adults – approximately 9.3% of the global population – were living with diabetes. By 2030, this number is expected to reach 578 million (10.2% of the adult population). By 2045, 10.9% of the world’s population will be living with diabetes.
When someone has diabetes, high blood sugar takes a toll on their whole body – including their gums and teeth. The good news, however, is that prevention is in their hands.
If you have diabetes – or someone close to you has diabetes – this detailed guide should help you understand what you are against when it comes to oral health. We will also show you what you can do to reduce the risk of suffering from oral health complications often caused by diabetes.
Oral Health Problems Associated with Diabetes
Whether you have Type I or Type II Diabetes, a higher blood sugar level increases the risk of:
The mouth naturally carries numerous types of bacteria. When sugars and starch in beverages and food interact with the bacteria, a sticky film – also called plaque – forms on your teeth.
The acids in this plaque attack teeth surface – the dentin and enamel – and can lead to both gum disease and cavities.
People with diabetes often have higher blood sugar levels. The higher your blood glucose (sugar) levels, the higher the supply of starches and sugars. This increases the plaque and the acids that eat away at your teeth.
Diabetes reduces the mouth’s ability to fight bacteria. If you fail to remove plaque from your teeth with regular flossing and brushing, it can harden under the gum line and turn into tartar.
The longer the tartar and plaque stay on the teeth, the more it irritates parts of the gum around the teeth’s base – this part of the gum is known as gingiva.
With time, the gums may swell and start bleeding. This condition is known as gingivitis.
If left untreated, gingivitis may lead to a serious gum infection known as periodontitis. Of course, if you are working with professionals – say, you are working with a company like Straight Teeth Invisible to straighten your teeth with invisible teeth aligners – you can catch gingivitis early enough and keep it from maturing into periodontitis.
However, in cases where you do not catch gingivitis early enough, periodontitis damages the bone and soft tissues that support the teeth. This can loosen your teeth, increasing their risk of falling out.
Periodontitis can be severe in people with diabetes. This is because diabetes lowers the body’s ability to resist infection. What’s more, diabetes can slow down healing. Periodontists can also raise blood sugar levels, making diabetes control more complicated.
A fungal infection caused by a yeast known as Candia Albicans, people with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing thrush. Signs of thrush include red or white patches inside the mouth.
Also known as dry mouth, xerostomia is a condition where the mouth lacks saliva. People with diabetes are generally at a high risk of lacking saliva in their mouths.
Without saliva to bathe the teeth and keep the mouth moist, the risk of thrush, gum disease, and tooth decay increases.
Tips on How to Keep Your Mouth Healthy with Diabetes
To avoid damage to your gums and teeth, you will need to take your dental care and diabetes seriously. Below, we have outlined some health care routines that you can take advantage of:
Manage Your Diabetes
Be sure to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly. Also, follow the doctor’s instructions for keeping the blood glucose levels in the target range. The more ideal your blood sugar control, the lower your risk of developing dental health issues.
Brush At Least Twice Per Day
Brush your teeth in the morning, before going to bed at night, and, ideally, after snacks and meals. Be sure to avoid harsh or vigorous scrubbing as this can irritate the gums and corrode your enamel.
When brushing, use fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Replace your toothbrush every 3 months.
Floss At Least Once Per Day
Flossing eliminates the plaque that generally sits between the gumline and the teeth. If the regular dental floss fails to work for you, take advantage of the waxed floss. If you find it difficult to manipulate your floss and get it in hidden areas, invest in a floss holder.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Visit the dentist at least 2 times per year. Every time you visit the dentist’s office, remind him/her that you have diabetes. Also, ensure the dentist has contact data for the doctor who helps you with diabetes management.
Your dentist should help you with professional teeth cleaning, checkups, and x-rays. This should help you catch dental problems early enough.
Report Early Signs of Oral Disease
Always be on the lookout for signs of oral health problems. Report signs of gum disease early enough – these signs may include:
- Bleeding gums
- Swollen gums
Also, be sure to mention other signs and symptoms of ill health, including:
- Mouth pain
- Loose teeth
- Dry mouth
This will help you treat oral diseases before they develop and become too complicated to treat.
Smoking can increase your risk of serious diabetes complications. These complications may include gum disease and even loss of teeth. If you are currently smoking, talk to your doctor or visit the best endocrinologist in Mumbai and ask for options that can help you quit.