Dental woes of diabetics

Dental woes of diabetics

SWEET TEETH With diabetes, come several other health complications.
One important concern is dental health. Dr (Capt) Sandeep Sharma details the ins and outs of oral hygiene for individuals with varying sugar levels.

A new study shows that low Vitamin D  addition to keeping a tab on their sugar and insulin levels, diabetics must also take care of their oral hygiene. While poor oral health exposes a person to innumerable health woes, people suffering from diabetes are especially susceptible to oral health problems because of varying or uncontrolled sugar levels.

This is because uncontrolled sugar damages white blood cells, which are responsible for defending our body from bacterial infections. As a grimy mouth is a breeding ground for such infections, diabetes worsens the condition.

Some oral problems common among diabetics are Gum disease: Diabetes and gum
diseases are totally interlinked, studies show. In fact, many a times it is the swollen gums that take the patient to a dentist, which turns out to be a case of undiagnosed diabetes.

If you are a diabetic and your gums are not strong enough, you won’t be eating well, leading to a cycle of worsening sugar levels and inability to eat.

Fungal infections: One kind of yeast, namely Candida albicans, is naturally present in the mouth. Its overgrowth leads to oral fungal infections called oral thrush. High sugar levels in saliva, which lead to dry mouth, aggravate oral thrush.

In this particular condition, people can have difficulty in swallowing and might have painful sores or ulcers or white or red patches on the skin.

Healing problems: When there is scarcity of white blood cells due to diabetes, any infection in the mouth takes a lot of time to heal as the mechanism gets very slow when compared with other persons having normal glucose levels. Not just infections, a simple oral surgery or tooth extraction become painful for diabetes patients as the recovery process in their situation is extremely slow.

Tooth decay: When glucose levels are high, the amount of starch and sugars also increases in the saliva. Tooth decay happens when the enamel, the
outermost layer of tooth, is exposed to acids constantly. The food that

we eat or the contains sugar and starches, which triggers formation of plaque, a sticky substance consisting of bacteria, mucus and food particles. Plaque can play havoc with teeth health, by letting the acid
attack continue on the enamel.

Some precautions you must take:

Control fluctuating blood sugar levels: Keeping blood sugar under control is not just good for overall health, but it also helps avoid oral infections and problems associated with it. One should follow the medication regime religiously and take all measures to keep a check on diabetes.

Visit your dentist regularly: As diabetics are prone to oral infections and dental problems, they should regularly see their dentists. On every visit, they should update their dentist about their diabetic condition. Regular visits to the dentist will counter any oral problem in its initial stages only.

Take care of orthodontic appliances: Diabetics wearing crowns, braces or any other orthodontic appliance need to be extra cautious in handling them. As any soreness or bruise being caused due to them isn’t easy to heal. In case there is any breakage in the crown or brace, it should immediately be brought to the notice of the dentist.

Avoid smoking: Smokers who are diabetic are at a higher risk of oral infections or diseases when compared with non-smokers. Smoking also stops the blood flow to gums, so if there is any wound in the mouth, the healing
becomes slow.

Diabetics need to make extra efforts to keep their teeth and gums in good shape. They don’t have to be battle ready, but it’s prudent to stay cautious.
(The author is senior dental consultant, Axiss Dental)

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