When considering oral health, it’s not always easy to comprehend its connectivity to our overall health. However, once we acknowledge that according to the Meridian Chart, each tooth is related to a particular organ, tissue or gland in our body, we can begin to understand the effects certain diseases, like diabetes, have on the quality of our teeth.
Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body is unable to produce sufficient insulin to lower blood glucose levels. This can take a toll on your entire body including your teeth and gums. If you are diabetic, it’s important to gear yourself with the necessary information to ensure the safety and longevity of maintaining healthy teeth.
What Problems Can Occur?
- Every individual’s mouth contains a certain number of bacteria at any time, which is its natural propensity. After meals, when foods containing sugars and starches break down, they combine with the bacteria to form a sticky film known as plaque. Plaque growth can be managed by following good oral hygiene, however, for diabetics, the acids from the plaque attack can wear away the teeth enamel faster leading to a higher risk of cavities and early gum disease (gingivitis).
- Since diabetes makes it more difficult for your teeth to naturally fight against bacteria, it is essential to put in a greater amount of effort to ensure optimal conditions prevail. Frequently brushing after every meal and even flossing every day can help prevent plaque from hardening into tartar (dental calculus). Failure to do so will quickly result in your gums to swell and bleed, increasing the risk of a more serious infection called periodontitis.
- At an advanced stage of gum disease, the soft tissue is severely damaged and the bone support also diminishes considerably. Without proper treatment, the gum tissues eventually pull away from the teeth completely, causing them to loosen and eventually fall out. Periodontitis affects diabetics even more than usual because it can cause their blood sugar levels to rise while keeping their ability to resist infection low, making the healing process much longer.
- Caused by high blood sugar levels, thrush is another form of infection that is commonly found in people with diabetes. This fungal infection is caused by yeast growth that thrives in warm and moist areas of the body like the oral cavity. Some signs you can look out for include creamy, white-colored patches in the mouth, cracks at the corner of the lips, or a nasty, bitter taste to name a few. Just like with any other infection, practicing good oral hygiene is a form of prevention, however, be sure to visit a dentist if the symptoms become progressive.
What Solutions to Follow?
- Monitor and manage your diabetes consistently and remember to follow your doctor’s instructions on how to maintain optimal blood sugar levels. You can also take advice from your dental hygienist and learn about how you can take further initiative to care for your oral health.
- Your teeth need to be religiously cleaned with a soft-bristled tooth toothbrush at least twice a day and ideally after every meal or snack.
- Flossing also helps remove plaque that forms in between the teeth and prevents it from hardening under the gum line into tartar.
- You can educate yourself about the symptoms of gum disease, including excessive redness, swelling, or bleeding so that you can identify these signs early and gain the apt form of treatment.
- Schedule regular visits so your dentists can look for early signs of gum irritation or tooth decay and treat the condition before it worsens further.
Practicing good dental hygiene is a must for everyone in general, and diabetics in particular, to maintain overall oral health. High blood sugar levels can lead to an array of infections, however, you can keep them at bay by monitoring your diabetes and following the necessary dental guidelines.