Opinion: Dr Aarti Sharma
Diabetes can damage  your teeth and gums  
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Every human being is responsible for his own health. Your lifestyle, your habits contribute a lot to healthy living. Today, people are really concerned about their health and, therefore, try to  adopt balanced and healthy routine. But busy life, long working hours can make your healthy routine go haywire. This can even affect your immune system.Poor immune system can lead to serious consequences and one of them is diabetes. Diabetes is a disease in which the body's ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, elevating the level of glucose in blood.

People who have diabetes know that this disease can lead to impairment of the eyes, nerves, kidneys and heart. What they don't know is that diabetes can also affect their oral health. It can lead to pain and infection in teeth and gums.  

Diabetes if not controlled, can lead to elevated glucose levels in saliva which may help the bacteria to flourish. It also leads to the formation of plaque, a soft sticky film on your teeth which, if not removed can eventually harden into tartar. When tartar collects above the gum line, it becomes difficult to brush and clean between the teeth. This can further lead to infection in the mouth. 

Since diabetes decreases the body’s resistance to infection, the gums are among the first of the tissues likely to be affected. Periodontal (gum) diseases are infections of the gum. It can lead to difficulty in chewing and loss of teeth. In fact, dry mouth is very often a symptom of undetected diabetes, which can also cause soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay. Smoking makes these problems worse.

The other common oral health problems associated with diabetes are tooth decay; salivary gland dysfunction; fungal infections; lichen planus and lichenoid reactions (inflammatory skin disease); infection and delayed healing; taste impairment.
How will you know if you have mouth problems from diabetes?

Check your mouth for signs of problems from diabetes. One of the first indications of gum disease is swollen, tender, or bleeding gums. Sometimes there are no signs of gum disease. You may not know you suffer from this until the damage is serious. Hence best defense is to see your dentist twice a year for a regular cleaning and checkup.

How can you keep your mouth healthy?

Good blood glucose control is the key to controlling and preventing mouth problems. People with uncontrolled blood glucose levels get severe gum disease more often than people who have the diabetes well controlled. Twice a day brushing, and flossing, regular dental check-ups and controlled blood glucose is the best defense against the oral complications of diabetes. The dentist may also suggest the use of antimicrobial mouth washes to control the gum disease.

How can you prepare for a visit to your dentist?

    Plan ahead. Talk with your doctor and dentist before the visit about the best way to take care of your blood glucose during dental work.
    If you take insulin or other diabetes medicines, take them and eat normally before the dental visit.
    Carry your diabetes medicines and food with you to the dentist’s office.
    You may have to postpone any non-emergency dental treatment if your blood glucose is uncontrolled.
    If you get nervous about visiting the dentist, talk to your dentist and the staff about your fears and apprehensions. Your dentist can adjust the treatment plan to suit your needs. Don’t let your anxiety stop you from having regular checkups.


The writer is a dentist with Clove Dental 

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