The Connection Between Diabetes and Dental Health
People with diabetes already know its health implications and how it can cause kidney, heart, and vision problems. However, little is known about its side effects on dental health. For example, patients with uncontrolled diabetes are more likely to suffer from periodontal (gum) disease caused by gum infection. The condition can bring severe side effects that cause prolonged dental pain and, eventually, tooth loss. This is just one of the dental diseases that patients with diabetes are more likely to encounter if their blood sugar levels are uncontrolled. This article will dive into the effects of diabetes and how it impedes good oral health to show how it affects diabetic patients and their dental health.
How Diabetes Affects Dental Health
Dry Mouth: Uncontrolled diabetes can reduce saliva flow in the mouth, resulting in a medical condition called “dry mouth.” Dry mouth can further cause mouth sores, infection, ulcers, and tooth decay. Saliva is essential as it helps keep the mouth clean and helps control the number of bacteria in the mouth.
Delayed Healing of Wounds: High blood sugar levels can cause oral wounds to take longer to heal; therefore, diabetic patients with uncontrolled diabetes may have a difficult time recovering after undergoing dental surgery. In addition, our dentist in Breckenridge will recommend getting your blood sugar levels in control before offering any dental treatment that involves surgery.
Thrush: Some dental procedures require patients to take pre-surgical antibiotics before treatment. Unfortunately, people with diabetes with uncontrolled blood sugar levels may suffer from fungal infections of the mouth and tongue after taking antibiotics. The reason is that the fungus thrives when there is a high glucose concentration in the saliva, which is prevalent in people with unmanaged diabetes. In addition, such patients may also get fungal infections when they wear their dentures for extended periods.
Burning Mouth/ Tongue: Burning mouth syndrome is a painful condition with no visible signs and can last for years if not treated. The condition is known to cause a sensation that can be compared to having your mouth on fire. It can also spread to other mouth areas, such as the tongue, lips, gums, and cheeks.
There are many causes of burning mouth syndrome, making it a bit challenging to diagnose.
Burning mouth is mainly caused by:
- Damage to the nerves responsible for controlling oral senses
- Infections in the mouth acid
- Poorly fitted reflux dentures
- Anxiety and depression
Diabetic patients are more likely to suffer from the condition due to other conditions such as dry mouth, Neurological abnormalities, and oral thrush. Neuropathy which results in nerve damage and weakness in the hands and feet, may also cause oral burns and pain due to nerve changes in the mouth.
- The main symptom is moral to severe burning in the mouth, which can be constant or intermittent.
- Dryness and soreness in the mouth
- Tingling or numbing sensation in the mouth or on the tip of the tongue
- A bitter or metallic mouth taste
Treatment may vary depending on what caused the condition. Treatments include:
- Treating the symptoms if no underlying cause is found
- Administering medicine to reduce blood glucose levels in diabetic patients
- Recommending supplements to treat nutritional deficiencies
- Prescribing medication to treat dry mouth, oral candidiasis, and control nerve
Since there are several causes and treatments, we will have to make a diagnosis and recommend the best treatment for your case. Visit any of our dental offices near you for treatment.
Gum Inflammation and Periodontitis: Apart from the mentioned complications, one of the most common dental problems patients with uncontrolled diabetes face is gum inflammation and periodontitis. Uncontrolled diabetes causes blood vessels to thicken. As a result, the flow of nutrients and waste products in the bodies of diabetic patients, including the mouth, will slow down.
Due to the delay in the supply of nutrients, the body becomes weak and finds it hard to fight infections. Bacteria in the mouth will start thriving, resulting in more bacterial infections leading to periodontitis. Since uncontrolled diabetes is responsible for causing dry mouth, the patient will experience a reduction in saliva in the mouth. This will make it easier for bacteria to thrive since saliva protects mouth tissues and prevents bacterial growth.
Symptoms of Gum Disease and Periodontitis
- Receding gums (gums pulling away from your teeth)
- Red, swollen gums that feel tender
- Bleeding gums, especially after brushing your teeth
- Loose teeth or unexplained tooth loss
- Prolonged dental pain
- Chronic bad breath
Gum diseases tend to occur in stages, starting from mild, moderate, and then severe. Some patients may fail to recognize that they suffer from gum disease during the early onset as the symptoms would still be mild or moderate. That’s why we recommend visiting a dentist near you for regular checkups so dental diseases can be detected and treated early.
Uncontrolled diabetes is responsible for many dental problems, even among people with diabetes with good oral health practices. It’s essential to control your blood glucose level to avoid future health and dental complications. Visit Breckenridge Dental Group for regular dental checkups and treatment. We also have a flexible payment plan to make it easy for all patients to access quality dental services.