Science + Tech

Diabetes and the impact on oral health

diabetic checking glucose levels

People with diabetes are in a higher risk of oral health problem due to uncontrolled blood sugar levels. According to American Diabetes Association, nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes. Due to less control of their blood sugar, these patients have a higher chance of developing oral health problems. Hyperglycemia, or high level of glucose in the blood, makes the saliva have too much glucose. This helps bacteria grow in the mouth. These bacteria could progress plaque formation which could later cause tooth decay or gum disease, meaning those with diabetes should schedule regular appointments with dental services like this Dentist Houston based clinic to continually check up on their oral health. If some plaque does not move over a long period of time, they stay above your gum line and turn to calculus. Calculus makes it difficult to brush and floss between your teeth. The gum may become swollen, tender and easily bleed, especially during brushing. These are signs of gingivitis.

Not having the right balance of blood sugar can destroy white blood cells which are the main defense against bacterial infections in the body, including the mouth. One of the main symptom of diabetes is dry mouth which can cause soreness, infections, tooth decay and ulcers. In addition, patients with diabetes may develop thrush, which is an infection caused by candida fungus (yeast) due to a weak immune system. Researchers found that people with diabetes are not only at a higher risk of oral health problems but also severe gum disease could affect the development of their diabetes.

Other complication:

Another complication is thickening of the blood vessel, which significantly decrease the flow of nutrients to and waste products from the tissues. This decreases the ability of the tissues to fight infections and could cause periodontitis. In the mouth there are millions of bacteria, so the ability to fight against infection is significant.

Prevention and solutions:

Controlling the blood glucose and having the right level of glucose in blood is the most important factor for controlling diabetes. Additionally, taking good care of the teeth and gums by brushing and flossing can be helpful in preventing the complications of diabetes. It is highly recommended to see your dentist and hygienist on a regular bases (checkups every six months). Avoid smoking because it will increase your chances of getting gum disease, thrush and other diabetes-related problems. For patients using dentures, remove and clean them daily to minimize bacterial infections. People with diabetes may need to be treated by dentists and hygienist who are well-equipped and knowledgeable about the complications and effects of diabetes in the oral cavity. It is essential to inform and update your dentist of your condition and any medication that you may be using.

As medical practitioners, it is critical to know about diabetes due to the complications it causes. The main complication faced by patients with diabetes is a weak immune system due to low blood cells. Patients with diabetes may need extra care in medical surgery. Gingivitis could be developed by decrease of nutrition to gum tissues. This is common in diabetes but, like other complications, can be prevented by controlling the blood glucose. It would be useful to take diabetes medicine like insulin that can lower blood glucose before visiting a dentist. Moreover, having a good meal plan by a doctor or dietitian could improve the oral health of people with diabetes. Lastly, diabetic patients should brush their teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.

Oral health practitioners can make a valuable contribution to the management of diabetes.

~Saeed Bigdeli, SUNY-Plattsburgh ’14, Predental

Saeed Bigdeli

Saeed is a recent graduate with Biochemistry major and Business minor from State University of New York College at Plattsburgh. He is planning to go to dental school in the near future and study his passion.

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3 Comments

  1. Saeed Bigdeli says:

    Definitely, working on “Medical Marketing” is essential in Health care.

  2. People with uncontrolled diabetes do not heal quickly after oral surgery or other dental procedures because blood flow to the treatment site can be impaired.

  3. Yeah lately I had a patient that had thrush and had just started taking atenelol recently. We didn’t know if it had to do with the recent root canal. Finally I asked about new meds and then he told me of the new dry mouth causing medication.

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