How does diabetes affect oral health?

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How does diabetes affect oral health?

Patients with diabetes are often at greater risk of oral health issues such as tooth decay and gum disease.

Unfortunately, if you have diabetes, you are more likely to suffer from oral health problems. But, with the right information and proper care, it’s possible to keep your overall health on track. Here’s what you should know if you are diabetic.

Look out for gingivitis

One of the most common oral health problems that people with diabetes suffer from is gum disease, so we encourage you to look out for the first signs of the condition. The early stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis and is characterised by inflamed and tender gums. You may also notice that your gums bleed when you brush and floss. Because individuals with diabetes tend to have more sugar in their saliva, there is a greater chance of harmful acids developing in the mouth. These bacteria form plaque, which if left to build upon the teeth, can lead to decay and gum disease.

In order to keep plaque under control, be sure to practise good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly. An anti-bacterial mouthwash can also be helpful in preventing gingivitis.

Don’t ignore gum disease

If you don’t manage your gingivitis, it can develop into a more serious form of gum disease known as periodontitis. Periodontitis can cause severe damage to the teeth and gums, as well as to the underlying bone structures. The condition can even lead to tooth loss if it is not managed early enough.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for periodontitis, but it can be managed with proper care, and further damage can be prevented. Diabetes puts you at greater risk of developing the condition, which can lead to complications like abscesses, receding gums, and shifting teeth. To prevent the condition, we recommend that you come in and see us for regular check-ups and cleanings.

Dry mouth is common

If you have diabetes, your body’s ability to produce saliva is likely to be slower than normal so you may experience a dry mouth. Known as a condition called xerostomia, dry mouth can put you at greater risk of tooth decay and gum disease because insufficient saliva means that bacteria are able to grow at a rapid rate in the mouth.

If you struggle with a dry mouth, we recommend that you drink plenty of water throughout the day and try to avoid habits that could worsen the condition — these include smoking and drinking alcohol and caffeine. Chewing on sugar-free gum can also help to promote the production of saliva.

You’re more prone to infection

Diabetes increases the risk of certain oral infections, including fungal yeast infections (also known as thrush). Thrush typically causes red or white patches on the tongue and inside of the cheeks, which can develop into painful sores. If you notice lesions or sores inside your mouth, we recommend that you come in and see us so that we can recommend a suitable treatment.

To prevent oral infections like thrush, it is very helpful to practise good oral hygiene. If you wear dentures, be sure to remove them at night and clean them thoroughly every day. It’s also a good idea to come in for regular dental check-ups so that we can look out for any issues that require treatment.

Regular dental check-ups are key when it comes to maintaining your oral health, whether you have diabetes or not. Your dental health can easily deteriorate if you have poor oral hygiene habits, or if you allow small issues to worsen over time.

If it’s been a while since your last dental check-up and clean, please don’t hesitate to come in and see us. Get in touch to arrange a consultation.

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