Does my diabetes affect dental problems

Does my diabetes affect dental problems?

A review article by

Dr. Somedatta Ghosh (Pal)

If the blood sugar levels in diabetes patients are not well managed, then there are high chances to develop oral health issues. 25% of chronic diabetic patients have some dental or gum issues.

Diabetes increases the amount of sugar in saliva, which helps to increase the population of bacteria. Bacteria love to interact with sugar and convert it into tooth-damaging acids. Plaques are formed on the teeth’ surface through the combination of bacteria, saliva, and left-over food inside the mouth.

Sometimes diabetes and diabetic medications reduce saliva production, creating dryness inside the mouth. Saliva makes the enzymes that attack bacteria. Thus dry mouth also helps to build up a banquet of oral bacteria and fungi.

Uncontrolled diabetes mainly helps to develop the following type of oral health issues:

Gingivitis: This is the first stage of gum disease. Sugar-fed bacteria quickly develop dental plaques, which start irritation and inflammation in the gum. It becomes red, swollen, and starts to bleed easily.

A dentist can clean the infection with antiseptic and antibacterial medication. It should be followed by regular brushing and flossing of the teeth.

Periodontitis: Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis. Infection from the gum can spread to bones that hold the teeth in place. As a result, teeth may become loose and can come out.

It can’t be treated with brushing and flossing alone. A periodontist can clean up the plaques, and infections and take necessary actions (for example antibiotic mouth rinses) not to reappear the infection. In severe cases, it may need surgery also.

Dry mouth: Less production of saliva can create a permanent dryness in the mouth. It may cause oral sores, ulcers, and infections.

To relieve the uneasy feeling, the patient needs to sip water frequently. They should strictly avoid caffeine and alcohol.

Dental cavities: Excess sugar in saliva, and irregularly cleaned teeth can cause decay of teeth and ultimately result in dental cavities.

Dental filling, root canal treatment, and crowns are the popular treatment options to treat dental cavities.

Thrush: White patches are formed on the inner cheeks, tongue, roof of the mouth, and throat. It creates a cotton-like feeling inside the mouth. The patient may lose the taste and have pain during swallowing the food.

It is usually treated with antifungal medicine.

Prevention of Oral Health Issues in Diabetes:

  • The diabetic patients must maintain a suitable blood sugar level by following a healthy diet, physical activities, and blood sugar medications.
  • They should take care of their oral health by brushing their teeth twice daily and flossing the leftover food from spaces between the teeth.
  • They should visit a dentist in case of :
  • Redness, infection, and bleeding from the gum.
  • Looseness of teeth.
  • Dryness in mouth.


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