A recent newspaper article was published about how having diabetes can affect the mouth. An Ottawa dentist explained that diabetes is a medical condition that affects the entire body as well as the mouth. The Ottawa dentist went on to explain that those with diabetes need to be extra vigilant about dental care because they may be at a higher risk for developing oral problems because of poorly maintained blood glucose levels. Poorly managed diabetes, according to the Ottawa dentist can have negative effects on the white blood cells.
White blood cells can help the body fight off oral bacterial infections which can occur more frequently in those with diabetes. The Ottawa dentist also said that those with diabetes also have a higher risk of decreased saliva flow resulting in a dry mouth. People suffering from dry mouth syndrome are also more prone to mouth soreness, dental caries, infections, and oral ulcers.
Gingivitis is also more prevalent in the diabetic population because it can cause a thickening of the blood vessels. This thickening impedes the circulation of nutrients throughout the body and also slows the elimination of waste products from the body. Since gum disease is generally caused by a bacterial infection, people with diabetes might notice that their gum disease is severe.
Poor healing is also an effect of diabetes and diabetics may not heal as well following an oral surgery procedure as those who do not have the condition because blood flow and circulation to the surgical site is sometimes impaired. Another oral manifestation of diabetes may be thrush.
Thrush is a fungal infection that can cause burning of the mouth or tongue and is characterized by the formation of white patches on the inside on the mouth or tongue. Thrush infections are prevalent in diabetics because fungus generally thrives in environments where high levels of glucose are present. Furthermore, diabetics who also smoke increase their risk of thrush even further, and that risk can be almost twenty times higher than diabetics who do not smoke.
The dentist further remarked that even though diabetics are at a higher risk for developing conditions that can harm their dental health, there are many things to consider that can help reduce that risk. One of the most important things that a diabetic patient can do is keep his blood glucose levels managed well by routinely testing his levels, taking prescribed medications, exercising, and eating a healthy diet. Maintaining a reasonable weight and not smoking are also crucial in keeping blood sugar levels within normal limits.
When visiting the dentist, it is recommended that the diabetic patient brings with him the names of his medications so that if dental medications need to be prescribed, the dentist will recommend the ones less likely to be contraindicated with medications currently being taken by the patient.
It is also very important for people with diabetes who also wear dental appliances such as dentures or braces to contact their dentists as soon as possible if they sustain an injury to their tongues or mouths. Diabetics tend to heal slower and are more prone to infection than those without the disease.
Unless prompt treatment is instituted, an oral infection can occur as a result of a mouth injury. Diabetics should also have their teeth checked and professionally cleaned twice a year, and brush and floss after every meal. Those who wear dentures should take them out and clean them every day, and symptoms such as bleeding gums, loose teeth, pain, oral ulcers, or inflammation should be brought to the attention of the dentist as soon as possible.