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Diabetes is a metabolic disease that results in high blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, you are susceptible to a number of related conditions, including an increased risk of oral health problems. Understanding this increased risk can help you stave off oral disease and keep your teeth healthy.

Common Conditions among Patients with Diabetes

Gum Disease

One of the most common oral complications found in patients with diabetes is gum disease. There are two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the inflammation of gum tissue. As the disease progresses it can cause the gums to bleed, appear red and puffy and become painful or tender. The gums pull away from the teeth, creating pockets where plaque and bacteria accumulate. If your gums bleed when you gently brush them with a soft toothbrush, you may have gingivitis.

When gingivitis is left untreated, it develops into periodontitis. At this stage, the infection causes damage to the jawbone and ligaments that support the teeth, making them loose. The gum tissue further recedes, leading to exposed nerve endings that can make the teeth very sensitive. If you have loose teeth that are extremely sensitive, you may be suffering from periodontitis.

There are several reasons why a person with diabetes has an increased risk of gum disease. If you are diabetic, your saliva may contain increased amounts of sugar. This extra sugar makes it easier for bacteria to thrive inside your mouth. When your diabetes is poorly controlled, you are even more susceptible to these bacteria, because you heal more slowly. People with diabetes are also prone to dry mouth. Dry mouth can irritate the gums. The lack of saliva to wash away bacteria allows them to set into the irritated gum tissue, promoting further gum disease.

Thrush

Thrush is a fungal infection common in people with diabetes. It presents as white sores on the mouth and tongue. Underneath the white patches, you see red tissue that bleeds easily. People with diabetes are more susceptible to thrust because they frequently take antibiotics. Your mouth maintains a natural balance of bacteria and fungus. If antibiotics kill too many bacteria, the fungus is able multiply more easily, leading to fungal infection. High blood sugar also contributes to the spread of thrush, because the fungi feed off of the extra sugar.

Tooth Decay

The presence of high levels of sugar in the saliva can also promote tooth decay. The bacteria in the mouth turn sugar into acid. The increased acidity damages the enamel that protects your teeth from decay. The presence of gum disease exacerbates this problem, as pockets between the gums and teeth house more plaque and bacteria. Tooth decay that is left untreated causes significant pain and can even lead to oral abscesses.

 

Preventing Oral Health Issues

Control Your Diabetes

All of these conditions are most common in individuals with uncontrolled diabetes. If sugar levels are kept in check, you are less likely to have oral health problems. Follow all of your doctor’s orders. Take medications as prescribed. Avoid sugary foods and simple carbohydrates that can raise your blood sugar levels. Drink plenty of water to combat dry mouth.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Everyone needs to practice good oral hygiene, but if you have diabetes, the increased risk for oral disease makes it especially important.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
  • Brush your teeth after any meals.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid acidic foods and beverages, like coffee.
  • If you do smoke or drink coffee, brush your teeth immediately afterwards.
  • Floss every day.
  • Visit your dentist at least twice a year for regular cleanings.
  • Use a mouthwash recommended by your dentist.
  • If you wear dentures, take them out and clean them every day.
  • If you notice any problems, make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible.

Just because you are diabetic doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to suffering from oral health issues and losing your teeth. Take precautions to prevent illness; and, know the signs of illness so that you can get help before it is too late.

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People suffering from diabetes have greater chances of developing certain oral health conditions. These usually include the following:

Dry Mouth

Yes, diabetics have more chances of developing an oral condition known as dry mouth, which causes the saliva flow to decrease. This oral health problem often leads to additional issues like soreness, infections, ulcers as well as tooth decay.

Gum health

Diabetics are at higher risk of developing gum inflammation. In addition to affecting white blood cells, diabetes also thickens the blood vessels, affecting the nutrient-flow within the body, as well as the mouth. As a result, the potential of the body of fighting infections is negatively impacted. As periodontitis is categorized as a bacterial infection, diabetics having uncontrolled disease have to suffer from frequent gum problems.

Health of oral tissues

Usually, people with diabetes have another problem that affects the healing potential of oral tissues- especially following dental procedures. This happens because of the impairment of the blood flow in diabetics.

Thrush: Another Complication

Patients of diabetes who heavily rely on antibiotics for fighting a variety of infections are particularly at risk of experiencing fungal infections of oral cavity. This fungus tends to live on the sugar present in the saliva of diabetics.

 

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Your Gum Health Is Important

 

Did you know that regular tooth brushing plays an important role in preventing gum disease and gingivitis? Well, what regular tooth brushing actually does is that it removes the plaque and germs that are present in your the mouth, which are the root cause of most gum diseases.

 

Avoiding Periodontitis

 

Brushing your teeth will also help avoid periodontitis, which is a serious gum disease that can eventually break down the teeth as well as the bones around your mouth. It’s mostly a painful experience with the sufferers experiencing tooth loss as well as tooth abscesses.

Preventing Heart Diseases

Yes, it’s a fact and now one of the hottest topics in the world of health research. Your oral health has a strong connection with your heart and can affect your heart health in a positive or negative manner. The inflammation building up in your mouth as a result of periodontitis or other oral problems can eventually affect other areas in your body, with your body being at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Recent studies have also revealed that patients with good oral health practices are less likely to have problems with circulatory functions in their arteries as well as blood vessels.

Preventing a Diabetic Lifestyle

Surveys and research have also found a link between your chances of developing diabetes and poor oral hygiene. The more you take care of your oral health, the less you are at risk of developing health problems like diabetes.

Protecting your memory

 While most people are at higher risk of suffering from dementia in older years of their life, people having good gum and mouth health are less likely to experience this condition. Dementia is in some way related to poor blood circulation, which is something that can be improved if teeth are brushed on a regular basis.

 

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While tooth brushing, proper oral hygiene practices and regular dental checkups play an important role in preventing dental health problems like gingivitis, it is equally important to take a balanced diet that is rich in essential nutrients for preventing the condition.

Did you know that a deficiency of vitamin C in your body may cause the gums to bleed, which if not treated on time, takes the form of gum infection? Vitamin C isn’t only important for helping your body maintain as well as repair teeth, but it also helps in strengthening cartilage and bones.

If you have the problem of bleeding gums, you should seriously consider having nutritious foods while making sure that your body is consuming sufficient amount of vitamin C. Apart from supplements and multivitamins, the natural sources of Vitamin C are vegetables like carrots, red peppers, sweet potatoes and of course, the most obvious source of vitamin C i.e. oranges and other citrus fruits.  Whether you decide to take supplements or consider eating vegetables and fruits to prevent vitamin C deficiency, it is important to note that packaged juices aren’t an ideal alternative to these sources as a majority of juices contain high sugar content and are extremely acidic, which is something that contributes to tooth enamel erosion.

 

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Being a common and mild gum infection, Gingivitis leads to irritation, inflammation (swelling) and redness of the gums. As this oral health condition can be mild, you might not notice any symptoms. However, it is extremely important to take this condition seriously and ensure its prompt treatment. If not treated, gingivitis can cause periodontitis and may lead to tooth loss.

Normally, gums are pale pink and firm. If you feel that your gums are dusky red, bleed easily and puffy, then you might have gingivitis. Some of the symptoms of this oral health condition are as follows:

  • Swollen gums
  • Receding gums
  • Puffy, bleeding, soft gums
  • Sometimes, tender gums
  • Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing the teeth, sometimes appearing as pinkness or redness on the brush or floss
  • Bad breath
  • Changing color of the gums from a normal pale pink to dusky red ]

Gingivitis usually occurs due to poor dental hygiene. Therefore, it is important to brush and floss your teeth daily and schedule regular dental checkups every 4 to 6 months to make sure your oral health isn’t at stake.

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