Prevent Diabetes Problems: Keep your mouth healthy
How does diabetes bring problems to my mouth?
Excessive blood glucose or blood sugar due to diabetes may result in pain, infection as well as other mouth problems. You mouth problems involve:
- Your jaw.
- Your gums.
- Your teeth.
- The tissues in your tongue, the top, the bottom as well as the sides of your mouth.
There is glucose in your saliva, the liquid which keeps your mouth moist. When your diabetes is not well managed, the levels of blood glucose is high and so is the amount of glucose in your saliva. This high level of glucose in the saliva encourages the growth of harmful germs called plaque. Plaque is also brought by putting foods which have lots of sugars or starches into the mouth. Certain kinds of plaque bring about tooth decay(dental caries or cavities). Other kinds bring about gum disease.
If you have diabetes, gum disease may occur more frequently, is more serious, and is slower in healing. In return, gum disease may cause your level of blood glucose harder to manage. According to researches, curing your gum disease helps to make your blood glucose less difficult to control. (see Diabetes Control -Does Tight Make Right?)
What Kind of Mouth Problems Do Diabetics Get? -Video Guide
What can possibly happen if I have plaque?
When plaque is not cleared and it remains in your mouth for some time, it hardens and form deposits where your teeth meet your gums. When hardened, plaque is not easy to remove from between your teeth even with brushing. Then, your gums turn swollen, red, and bleed quite easily, giving you signs that you are beginning to suffer from gingivitis.
If gingivitis does not get treatment, it may lead to periodontitis. With periodontitis, the gums separate from side of the teeth and form pockets which soon become infected. Your body immediately fights against the bacteria in the infection even as the plaque goes down into the gums. The infection and the body’s reaction to it causes damage to the bone as well as the tissue that keep the teeth where they are. Therefore, when periodontitis does not get treatment, the gums, bones, tissues, and bones which hold up the teeth will be destroyed. When teeth become loose, they will have to be pulled out. When you suffer from periodontitis, you may be sent by your dentist to a periodontist who is a specialist in gum diseases.
What are the usual diabetes-related mouth problems?
- Burning mouth syndrome – a painful, difficult mouth problem.
- Dry mouth, known as xerostomia.
- Thrush – the development of a yeast fungus which the body is not able to control.
- Periodontitis – a more serious form of gum disease.
- Gingivitis – the beginning of gum disease.
Indications of problems inside your mouth can be:
- An infected, painful area, or ulcer, which cannot heal.
- Dark marks or cavities in your teeth.
- An altered sense of taste.
- Pain at the time of chewing some food.
- Loose teeth.
- The mouth, jaw, or face suffering from a pain which is difficult to stop.
How do I know whether I have mouth problems from diabetes?
Examine your mouth often for any indication of diabetes related problems. If you see any signs of problems, visit your dentist immediately. The first indications of gum disease are tender, swollen, or bleeding gums. However, there are times when there are no indications at all until the damage is already serious. So, the best strategy is to visit your dentist half-yearly to have your mouth cleaned and checked.
How can I prepare for a visit to my dentist?
Planning is important for a diabetic who wants to visit his dentist. Before the visit, ask your doctor as well as your dentist on caring for your blood sugar at the time your dentist is working on your teeth and mouth.
It is possible that the diabetes medicine you take can result in hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Therefore, after taking your insulin or some other diabetes medicines, make sure you eat like usual before going to see your dentist. It is better if you can bring along the diabetes medicines as well as the food to the dentist’s place.
When your blood sugar is poorly controlled, it is wise to not go ahead with any dental work if it is not an emergency. Let the dentist as well as the staff know any nervousness that you may have so that your dentist can suit your needs in the treatment he gives. Nervous or not, your scheduled checkup is not to be missed. Waiting for a better time to go to the dentist can cause problems, if any, to be worse.
What should I do if my mouth becomes sore after the dental work?
There is a possibility that you cannot chew or eat for some time, a few hours or a number of days, should your mouth become sore after the dentist have worked on your teeth or mouth. Turn to your doctor for guidance on adjusting your meals in the meantime. So, ask:
- About the foods as well as the drinks which are suitable.
- Whether the time for taking your medicines ought to be changed.
- Whether your diabetes medicines’ dosage need to be changed.
- How many times a day, you ought to test your blood sugar.
What effects does smoking have on my mouth?
Smoking can worsen the problems faced by your mouth. It increases the possibility of having gum disease, oral fungal infections, throat and oral cancers. Smoking also tinges your teeth a nicotine yellow and fouls your breath.
Smoking and diabetes combined can be dangerous. Smoking increases the probability of diabetes problems occurring. So, if you stop smoking,
- you can lessen the possibility of suffering from stroke, heart attack, amputation, kidney disease, and nerve disease.
- your blood pressure and cholesterol levels might become better.
- circulation of your blood will be better.
If you are a smoker, reach out for help from your doctor. Ask him to help you stop smoking. For assistance, you can also call 1-800-784-8669 (1-800-QUITNOW).
How do I make sure that my mouth will be healthy?
Your mouth may be kept healthy by taking the following steps.
- Make sure your blood sugar numbers are close to the target you have chosen. This target should be set with the help of your doctor. Your doctor can tell you what can be done whenever your numbers go too high or too low.
- Eat balanced meals and eat according to your meal plan which you, together with your dietitian, have prepared.
- A minimum two times each day, using fluoride toothpaste, your teeth should be brushed. Fluoride gives your teeth protection from tooth decay.
- Try to brush upon awakening, before sleep and when you have finished eating.
- A soft toothbrush should be used.
- Brush your gum line gently.
- Small, circular movement ought to be used.
- The back, front, and top of every tooth must be brushed. Your tongue should be brushed, too.
- Your toothbrush needs to be replaced after 3 months’ use, or earlier if it is worn or its bristles are no longer firm. New toothbrushes do the job of removing plaque better.
- Your drinking water should have fluoride added to it. Find out from your dentist about fluoride mouthrinse to avoid tooth decay.
- Find out from your dentist about the use of an anti-gingivitis or anti-plaque mouthrinse to prevent gum disease or control plaque. Use dental floss to remove plaque which is between your teeth a minimum once each day. Flossing prevents plaque from forming and hardening on the surface of your teeth. While flossing,
- move the floss to the top and then down to the base of the teeth. Also let the floss go round the base of every tooth.
- use unused sections of floss as you move from one tooth to the next.
- Removing plaque from between the teeth can also be done by using a dental pick or brush which are thin aids designed to keep places between the teeth clean. They are available at drugstores as well as grocery stores.
- Dentures, if you have them, must also be kept clean. Get them changed or adjusted if they are loose.
- At the first sign of mouth problems, contact your dentist immediately.
- Get your dentist to clean and do a checkup at least two times each year. If your dentist thinks you need further dental attention, he may advise more visits.
- Always follow the advice of your dentist.
- If your dentist informs you of a mouth problem, act on it immediately.
- Follow the advice or treatments given by your dentist to make sure your mouth stays healthy.
- Inform your dentist about your diabetes.
- Let your dentist know of any changes in your health as well as in the medicine used.
- Let your dentist know your blood tests, including the fasting blood glucose and the A1c test.
- If your blood sugar levels are not under control, find out if you have to take antibiotics before as well as after any dental treatment done.
- If you are a smoker, find out how you can stop smoking.