Diabetes is a very common medical issue, unfortunately only one third of the victims have been diagnosed with the condition. This being said, if you haven’t yet been diagnosed and you are prone to regular and unexplained oral health complications; these can be one of the self-observable signs that you may be a sufferer.
Diabetes can be easily maintained but it can also be challenging at times, so in order to make your life easier it is important to give your oral health extra care and attention. I have addressed the most common oral health problems that are associated with diabetes, to make you aware that these implications could be down to the underlying issue of diabetes.
Gum disease is categorised into two stages, stage one is gingivitis which is caused by a build-up of plaque around the tooth due to poor brushing. A classic sign to keep a look out for is inflammation, redness and bleeding of the gums while brushing. If left unrecognised and untreated, even for a non-diabetic, it can lead to periodontitis, which is the next stage of the disease.
Periodontitis is harder to treat and can have lasting damage as it can lead to tooth loss, receding gums and pain in the jaw. Having diabetes makes you more vulnerable to said infections as it reduces the body’s resistance to them, so it makes it all the more important to implement preventative measures.
Dry Mouth Syndrome (Xerostomia):
Dry mouth, as it states, is a term used to describe a lack of moisture in the mouth. Dry mouth can cause irritation, primarily in the corners of your mouth, and inflammation of the gums.
There can be numerous causes of dry mouth, however diabetes is a primary one, this is due to the high intake of insulin; the insulin affects the salivary glands ability to produce salvia. Like any oral infection, if it isn’t prevented, identified and treated effectively, it can increase your blood sugar levels through your body trying to fight the infection. Not only creating a vicious cycle but with dry mouth in particular, if not treated it can act as a breeding ground for bacteria. As then there isn’t a sufficient amount of saliva present to neutralise the acids that are active in your mouth. The lack of saliva encourages problems such as tooth decay and abscesses, dry mouth also affects the overall hygiene, which can act as a catalyst for infected salivary glands, inflammation of the lips, and other oral infections called candida, commonly known as oral thrush and BMS, burning mouth syndrome.
Oral Thrush (Candida):
Oral thrush is an infection caused by the germ called candida. The common signs that you may have this infection are normally identified within your mouth. Such as white spots on your gums and inner cheek, a redness and soreness, sore cracked areas around your mouth and a lack of taste when eating.
Oral thrush is easily treatable, simply by a two week application of cream or gel which can be purchased from over the counter within any pharmacy. If you are diabetic your chances of getting this is heightened, as I previously mentioned, diabetes can cause dry mouth, which then opens up the possibility of oral thrush forming.
Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS):
Burning mouth syndrome is a burning, scalding, tingling pain, or a feeling of numbness in the mouth. BMS can be a painful condition; usually the tongue can also be affected, as well as in the lips or roof of the mouth. BMS comes in two categories, secondary and primary, secondary is when an underlying condition can cause the syndrome, with diabetes and dry mouth once again being two of the culprits. Burning mouth syndrome can be relieved once you have established you have diabetes and you are treated. So if you have these symptoms or diabetes runs in your family and you haven’t been diagnosed, ensure you get a checkup, it could save you a lot of problems in the long run.
Diabetes and Dental Treatment:
If you are scheduled to have any form of dental procedure ensure to let your dentist know you are a diabetic so specific alterations can be made. You’ll need your treatment to be as efficient and as stress free as possible, furthermore, always prioritise a morning appointment as that is when your blood glucose levels tend to be under the most control.