If you are living with diabetes, you need to pay particular attention to your oral health and dental care, as well as keeping your blood glucose levels within the target range.
Diabetes and gum disease have a bidirectional relationship. That means they influence each other. Having diabetes increases the risk of developing gum disease and having uncontrolled gum disease increases the chances of developing type II diabetes. That’s because people living with diabetes have increased glucose levels in their saliva which feeds the bacteria living in the mouth. Equally, the bacteria present in the mouth of a pt with gum disease can escape into the blood stream resulting in worsened blood sugar control.
The worse the gum disease, the more likely the person is to suffer damage to other organs in their body.
It is important to look after your oral health and control your blood glucose levels to prevent gum disease. Treating gum disease helps to improve blood glucose levels in people living with diabetes, and people with blood glucose levels that are kept within the target range respond better to gum disease treatment.
High glucose levels in the saliva of people with unmanaged diabetes helps bacteria to thrive. This leads to an increased risk of developing tooth decay. Also, people with diabetes tend to eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. Each time you eat the ph balance in the mouth is altered creating a better opportunity for bacteria to feed and acidic attacks on the teeth to occur.
Unmanaged diabetes can decrease saliva flow resulting in a dry mouth. Saliva is a very important bodily function and is particularly important for maintaining a healthy oral microbiome. It also moistens the mouth, lubricates the tissues, neutralises harmful acids, kills germs, prevents bad breath, defends against tooth decay & gum disease and speeds up wound healing. Having a dry mouth can lead to soreness, ulcers, burning mouth, taste disturbances and infections.
High glucose in saliva, lowered resistance to infection and dry mouth (reduced saliva flow) can all imbalance the oral microbiome and encourage the overgrowth of yeast (fungi) which normally live in small quantities in the mouth. This overgrowth leads to a fungal infection known as oral thrush (also called candida) Diabetics who frequently take antibiotics to fight various infections are especially prone to developing oral thrush.The fungus thrives on the high glucose levels in the saliva of people with unmanaged diabetes resulting in uncomfortable creamy white lesions on the tongue and the inside of the cheeks.
If you are a person living with diabetes, it is recommended that you:
The good news is that people whose diabetes is well-managed have no more tooth decay or periodontal disease than people without diabetes. Good oral hygiene and a healthy cleaning regime will not only improve oral health but will also reduce the risk of diabetic complications.