Diabetes And Oral Health
With around 350 million diabetics worldwide, the health related issues for them can be significant. Some of these effects will vary depending where in the world the sufferer lives. In the west, dental related problems are relatively high and with susceptibility to disease heightened by the diabetes, it is worth looking at what the risks are and how best to avoid the problems or at least to minimise them.
Gingivitis and periodontitis, better known more generally as gum disease, is perhaps the most significant issue for diabetics. If left untreated, these diseases will lead to bleeding and very sore gums and very likely loss of several teeth which may result in the need for dental implants or similar teeth replacements.
One of the reasons for an increase of gum disease in diabetics is that the sugar levels in the person’s saliva is increased. This exposes the teeth to a continual supply of sugar which the harmful bacteria in our mouth thrives on. Many diabetics also struggle to produce sufficient saliva and have a dry mouth. This prevents the regular ‘flushing’ of bacteria which allows a build up to then attack the teeth and gums.
Despite the increased risk of oral health issues such as gum disease in diabetics though, the risks can be minimised with just a few precautionary measures.
The most obvious of these is to keep your diabetes under control, through prescribed medication if needed. Never allow the disease to get out of control otherwise all related problems will just get worse. As well as this, it is important to follow a healthy diet which is free from sugar and as many processed foods as possible which cause an increase in sugar levels in the blood. Make sure to stay hydrated too with a good intake of fluids as this will help to avoid a dry mouth.
Cleaning your teeth regularly is an obvious way to minimise any build up of plaque etc; don’t forget also to floss your teeth. If you find this difficult, there are products now available which perform the same function so have a look around for these. Smoking will also increase the risk of a dry mouth and reduce the chances of fighting diseases and infections so it is best to stop smoking if you do, or at the very least, cut down as much as you can.
Naturally, you should visit your dentist at the first sign of any problems and make sure also to keep your regular appointments, at least every six months to help you to keep on top of any dental problems related to your diabetes.
Peter Pratel is a diabetic who has suffered from gum disease in the past but with help and advice from Alexandra Dental Care, has recovered and is managing his dental health issues much better now.