Millions of people across the globe suffer from diabetes and taking care of oneself is crucial in this regard. Oral health is often taken for granted and relegated to the backburner but people don’t realize how damaging this can be. Due to the debilitating nature of the disease, diabetics face a lower resistance to infection and don’t recover as fast as non-diabetics.
Diabetes changes the way your body reacts to bacteria. Diabetic or not, we all have millions of bacteria in our mouth; the goal is to maintain a healthy balance. This is easier said than done for someone living with diabetes so they must be extra careful about dental care.
A few of the most common oral health problems faced by diabetics are gingivitis, periodontal (gum) disease, bleeding gums, and dry mouth.
Gingivitis – It is an inflammation of the gums, caused by plaque that accumulates on the teeth over a period of time. It is not as harmful as Periodontitis but can progress to it if left untreated. The signs of gingivitis are swollen, red gums that bleed easily upon brushing. At this stage, it can still be treated and no irreversible damage has been done.
Periodontitis – This gum infection is more often than not, a result of poor dental hygiene. It damages the gums and erodes the bones that support the teeth. This condition causes teeth to loosen over time and if left untreated, leads to a tooth (or teeth loss).
The damage caused by periodontitis is irreversible. Signs of periodontal disease are
- Swollen gums that appear bright red and bleed if pressure is applied
- Tenderness of the gums
- Gums bleed easily
- Gums start to draw away from your teeth and make your teeth appear longer
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Pain while chewing
Here’s what dentists recommend you do if you are a person living with diabetes:
- Keep your blood sugar levels in check
- Remember to brush after every meal.
- Use a mouthwash that is alcohol-free if you feel a burning sensation in your mouth or tongue.
- Using a toothbrush with softer bristles is highly recommended
- Never forget to floss on a daily basis
- If you use dentures, clean them every single day, without fail.
- Stop smoking. It will only worsen your condition.
The major cause of these issues is uncontrolled levels of sugar in the blood which play havoc with your teeth and gums. If you discover that your gums are red, swollen and/or bleeding, visit your doctor immediately. Do not neglect dental health under any circumstances.