This November has been made National Diabetes Awareness Month. Almost 10% of Americans have diabetes, but 25% of those affected don’t even know that they do. Here is information about the toll it takes on oral health and how the dentist can prevent some of the damage.
What is wonderful is that diabetes and oral problems are controllable. When you control your blood sugar, and take oral care steps like brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist this can go a long way to decrease the chances of developing these diabetes -related mouth problems.
Diabetes reduces the flow of saliva. Saliva is intimately related to the incidence of cavities and gum disease, because without saliva, bacteria can grow uncontrolled. Bacteria are the cause of cavities because of the acid they produce. They are also the cause of gum disease or periodontitis because of the inflammation they cause around the gums. With less saliva, foods don’t taste as good, leading to a poor nutritional diet intake. And the inflammation from bacteria resulting in gum disease takes a bigger toll since the irritation and inflammation takes longer to heal and heals less effectively, opening the door to infections. Even children with juvenile diabetes have dental problems when their teeth erupt into the mouth earlier than usual.
Here are some facts about diabetes and oral health:
1.Top researchers have found that gum problems get worse when blood sugar is too high. So, your mouth is healthier when you keep your blood sugar monitored and at the correct levels.
2 Diabetics have less volume of saliva, so feeling extra thirsty is a common finding. Additional causes of dry mouth include some medications and elevated blood sugar levels. Control dry mouth by frequently sipping water. Occasionally chewing sugarless gum will help as does eating crunchy vegetables and fruits to stimulate salivary production. Don’t forget to rinse after snacking because sugar in your saliva, together with less saliva can lead to cavities
3. Tastes are different. Favorite flavored foods do not taste like you remember if you have diabetes. This is not great, but to counteract this, experiment with trial and error with different foods and spices to find a variety that appeals to you. Be careful not to add excess sugar to add better flavor. Excess carbohydrates can lead to weight gain as well as elevated blood sugar levels, and the formation of cavities. Having a bad taste that lasts a long time can be a signal for trouble so make sure that you see your dentist on a regular basis.
4. Your immune system can be affected by diabetes. Lowered immune function leads to more infections. A common finding with people who have diabetes is an oral yeast infection called candidiasis or thrush. Yeast feed on the sugar found in saliva and can grow unimpeded if blood sugar levels are high. In the mouth, thrush has a whitish appearance almost like as layer coating the tongue and cheek insides which doesn’t wipe away easily. Thrush is more frequent with the use of dentures leaves a bad taste as well. Consult your dentist for some solutions to this problem if you spot this condition.
5. When you have uncontrolled diabetes, a cold sore or a cut in the mouth can take forever to go away or may not completely resolve as it should normally. If you notice delayed healing, see your dentist and your physician to investigate this problem more deeply.