Oral and dental problems are common diabetes side effects. Conditions like periodontal disease which is a disease of the gums and gingivitis are common among people with diabetes.
How diabetes affects your teeth
- High sugar levels cause inflammation of the mouth, gums, inner cheeks, and tongue.
- High blood sugar levels reduce the body’s ability to fight harmful bacteria and lowers the ability to fight infections.
- Diabetes causes dry mouth. Less saliva causes dryness of the mouth. Saliva protects the teeth. There is a higher risk of cavities when there is deficient saliva.
- Diabetes leads to dental plaque. Undigested food reacts with oral bacteria to produce plaque.
- It causes gingivitis. This is a condition when gums become inflamed and bleed.
- Taste buds are affected by high sugar levels. Problems in tasting food may arise making a person to eat more sugars than necessary.
- One of the main symptoms of diabetes is poor wound healing. This includes inflammation of the mouth.
- Diabetes risk factors include susceptibility to infections inside the mouth.
- In children with diabetes, teeth may emerge at an earlier age than normal. Early emergence of teeth could be signal the risk of diabetes.
- Red and swollen gums which bleed often during brushing or flossing and are tender to the touch are also warning signals of poor diabetes control.
- Plaque is formed when sugars interact with oral bacteria. Plaque is a big factor for tooth decay, and bad breath. Plaque deposits between the teeth which are more than normal are formed when sugars interact with bacteria and an acidic sticky film is formed.
- Tender or swollen gums along with pus between the teeth and gums.
Oral hygiene tips for people with diabetes
- Brush and floss- It is very important to use a good toothbrush and paste to brush your teeth. A good brush is one which reaches all corners of the teeth and is not soft or very hard. Flossing after brushing is also very good because it removes the stray strands which can cause plaque formation. Brushing twice a day is quite adequate.
- Keep blood sugar levels under control. Regular monitoring of glucose and updating your diabetes doctor and dentist is very important.
- Quit smoking- smoking is very harmful not only to the heart and lungs but also to the mouth especially in people with high blood sugar levels. Smoking causes dryness in the mouth leading to gum disease, discoloration of teeth, plaque build-up and most importantly impairs blood flow to the gums. Impaired blood circulation aggravates infections because the healthy bacteria are unable to fight plaque and other inflammations caused by high sugar levels.
- Ensure that the mouth is clean every time you finish eating.
- Tongue must be kept clean because harmful bacteria grow on the tongue too.