Diabetes is a systemic disease, meaning it affects every area of the body, including the mouth. Having a rigorous at home oral hygiene routine is especially important for people who are living with diabetes, as haywire blood sugar levels can cause more frequent occurrences of tooth decay, gum diseases and other dental problems. This is due to the fact that one of the effects of diabetes is the deterioration of white blood cells, which are the main line of defence for the immune system, and so the bacteria that are already present in the mouth in rather large volumes can proliferate to unhealthy levels and cause damage there. How gum disease (also known as periodontitis) is formed and how it can be treated is the subject of the article below.
Why does diabetes so frequently lead to periodontitis?
As already mentioned above, the condition of white blood cells deteriorates rather rapidly during diabetes and less white blood cells are formed, but that is sadly not the only negative effect of diabetes on the mouth. Another negative health effect of diabetes is the hardening of the veins and capillaries, which greatly slows down the absorption of nutrients and the expulsion of waste materials form the given tissues, and this includes the oral cavity. This makes the body much less able to fight off infections. Because gum disease is bacterial in nature, those suffering from diabetes will be much more likely to contract gingivitis and periodontitis, and will have more severe cases of the diseases as well.
Everyday tips to help fight periodontitis
1. Brush your teeth after every single meal, and make sure you take this more seriously than someone who is not diabetic. Try and avoid snacking altogether.
2. Make sure your toothbrush has soft bristles. Bristles that are too soft can also be a problem, as these do not clean effectively.
3. Removable dentures need to be removed, and not just at night! Make sure you find time to remove them after meals and clean them properly.
4. Smoking is one of the worst habits, from a dental point of view. If you are diabetic, you need to start to quit smoking immediately.
5. You should use dental floss or an interdental toothbrush to clean plaque out from between your tooth gaps at least once, but preferably twice a day.
6. If you have diabetes, it is absolutely imperative that you show up at least two times a year to the dentists for a check-up. Dentists can find problems that may not be apparent to the untrained eye.
What you need to do at the dentist
If you are going to the dentist, you should definitely mention to them that you are diabetic, and if at all possible, to get your doctor to give you a diagnosis and some readings of your health, so you can show it to the new dentist and they can develop an accurate picture of your health status. This is rather important, as depending on your diagnosis and the treatments you are seeking, you may need to take antibiotics before the procedure, you may need to change your diet, or adjust your insulin levels.
It can be dangerous to get dental treatments without these preliminary procedures, and you should definitely give the contact information of the doctor who is treating your diabetes to the dentist, as they may have questions that are important.
If your blood sugar levels are not stabilised, then it may be necessary to put off getting non-essential dental treatments until later. If the treatment is essential, as in the case of severe pain or an abscess, for instance, than obviously you need to see a dentist straight away.
Finally, be aware that healing times take longer for people with diabetes, so patience is a must. The dentist will provide you with clear instructions, that you must follow exactly.