Diabetes is a serious chronic condition, and one that is affecting more and more people with every passing year. Rising levels of obesity and a lack of exercise among the population means that levels of diabetes are expected to rise even further. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, or if you know someone who has, proper dental care is more important than ever before.
While it is important for diabetics to take good care of their hearts and their bodies as well, those suffering from this chronic condition cannot afford to ignore their teeth. Untreated dental problems can be more than a nuisance for diabetics tooth decay and gum disease can at times be deadly. The toxins from a ruptured abscess can damage the heart, and that can cause a life threatening situation for diabetics.
Higher Risk of Dental Related Complications
Diabetics need to know that their condition puts them at greater risk of many common dental problems, and it is important to be on the lookout for signs of dental problem. Brushing and flossing on a regular basis is one of the best ways to head off problems before they start.
Diabetics should also be on the lookout for common problems that can be caused or exacerbated by diabetes. The possible dental complications associated with diabetes include:
Gingivitis - the gum inflammation known as gingivitis can be a real problem for diabetics, and one that they should be on the lookout for. Diabetes can cause the blood vessels to become thicker, and this can slow the flow of waste products from the blood. This in turn reduces the ability of the body to fight off infection, a serious problem for diabetics of all ages.
Dry mouth - dry mouth is a big problem for diabetics, since the condition can decrease the flow of the saliva needed to keep the inside of the mouth moist. This lack of saliva can in turn cause soreness, mouth ulcers tooth decay and infections.
Poor healing - diabetics often have problems with wound healing, and this lack of healing can extend to the mouth and oral tissues. Diabetics should be careful when scheduling oral surgery, since they will have a harder time healing after the surgery has been completed. Anyone suffering from diabetes should notify their doctor or dentist of their condition before scheduling even mild procedures.
Burning sensations - some diabetics may experience a burning sensation in their mouths and tongues. This problem can be a symptom of another common diabetic complication known as thrush. Thrush is a fungal infection that can be brought on by the frequent use of antibiotics, and exacerbated by the high levels of sugar that result from uncontrolled diabetes.
While these problems can occur in anyone who suffers from diabetes, they can be even more serious in diabetics who continue to smoke. In fact diabetics who smoke are up to 20 times more likely to suffer from these dental problems than non-smokers. So if you do smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to break the habit. And even if you are already a non-smoker, it is important to be on the lookout for common dental problems. Although a diabetic may not necessarily be more prone to infection than a non diabetic, once an infection develops it tends to be more severe and lasts a longer period of time. Probably one of the most common types of chronic infection is inflammatory periodontal (gum) disease. It is also called pyorrhea, periodontitis, or gingivitis. Gingivitis is the begining stage of gum disease in which the tissue surrounding the teeth becomes inflamed. The inflammation extends to include the supporting bone surrounding the teeth, the condition is then called periodontitis.
Brush and floss every day after meals. Use a soft, nylon brush with rounded ends on its bristles. Brush gently with a scrubbing motion while holding the brisltes at approximately a 45 degree angle to the gum line. This will also aid in keeping the teeth and gums and the bone structure underneath the gums healthy. Use dental floss at least once a day to remove food that may become lodged between teeth, promoting bacterial growth, and to curtail plaque formation. Most dentists will recommend strict control of blood sugar levels before dental treatment.