Oral and Dental Health Resourse Centre

Diabetes Patients Should Pay Close Attention to Oral Health

If you have diabetes, keeping your blood glucose level within the recommended range for you and having regular dental check-ups are key to keeping your mouth healthy.

Diabetes can lower the body's resistance to infection and slow the healing process. These changes affect your mouth in general and particularly your gums. Patients with Diabetes are more likely to suffer from gum disease. Higher sugar levels in saliva help bacteria in dental plaque to thrive on your teeth. Plaque is a film of bacteria that develops within hours of brushing your teeth. More bacteria means increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Some of these bacteria release acids that cause tooth decay. Plaque that is not removed from tooth surfaces can harden into tartar. When tartar collects around the necks of teeth, brushing and cleaning along the gum line and in between teeth becomes more difficult. This in turn leads to more plaque build up and increased risk.

Diabetes can also reduce the body's resistance to infection, which can affect gums. Inflammation of gums due to bacteria building up around them can lead to periodontal disease — an irreversible chronic disease that leads to loss of supporting structures that keep teeth in place. Because diabetes may compromise or impair the healing process, you may also be at greater risk of developing gum abscesses.

If you notice any of the following warning signs of gum disease, arrange to see your dentist as soon as possible:

  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste
  • Teeth that are loose or appear to have moved

It is also possible to have gum disease and not notice any of these warning signs, or to have different symptoms. That's why regular dental check-ups are so important.

Following a healthy diet, taking insulin or oral medications as your doctor directs and advising your dentist about your condition will help you successfully manage and prevent any complications of diabetes affecting your mouth.


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