Individuals with diabetes have to pay special attention to their oral care routine in addition to their blood sugar and diet. Dental care for diabetics is important because they are at a higher risk for several oral health problems that they must constantly be on the lookout for. Here's what you need to know about each potential condition and what can be done to prevent it.
Uncontrolled diabetes, diabetic medications and high blood sugar levels can cause decreased saliva flow and a dry mouth, according to the American Diabetes Association. Dry mouth, in turn, can increase the risk of cavities, as less saliva is created to wash away food debris and acid. To counter dry mouth, drink plenty of water every day. Also, try chewing sugar-free gum or using a saliva substitute (available at your drugstore) to stimulate saliva flow. Brushing twice a day can also help fight cavities and is essential to dental care for diabetics.
Diabetes increases the risk for oral candidiasis, or thrush, a fungal infection of the mouth, especially if you have high blood sugar or take antibiotics often, the American Dental Association says. Less saliva and increased glucose levels in the saliva create a breeding ground for thrush. Common signs may include white or red patches in the mouth that can become sore and can potentially turn into ulcers. Keeping glucose levels in check and practicing good oral hygiene habits can protect against thrush.
Poorly controlled diabetes can slow the healing process after dental surgery or other dental procedures because blood flow to the affected area will be restricted, according to WebMD. Patients whose blood sugar isn't at a healthy level should hold off on any dental procedures until it is, and be sure to maintain the right blood sugar level after a dental procedure to aid the healing process. When levels are under control, the body has a better chance to heal.
Gum disease is another dental care concern for diabetics. High glucose levels, if left unchecked, can create an environment where bacteria can thrive, making it easier for plaque to harden and turn into tartar, which could eventually collect above your gum line and cause gum disease. Diabetics' lowered resistance to infection makes them more likely to get gum disease, as reported by the American Diabetes Association. When gums bleed easily, are red and swollen or leak pus between the teeth and gums, seek dental care right away.
To prevent gum disease and a host of other dental problems, brush twice a day with a good toothbrush, such as the Colgate® 360°® toothbrush, floss daily, follow your doctor's advice on diet and controlling diabetes and go to your regular dental checkups.