Because of the nature of their disease, diabetics are sometime more prone to common dental ailments than the rest of us.
Diabetes is one of the conditions that increase the probability of someone developing periodontal disease, or gum disease. Gum disease is often caused by gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums brought on by the presence of bacteria in plaque. Plaque is the sticky colourless film that accumulates on teeth both above and below the gum line. Without regular dental checkups, periodontal disease may result if gingivitis is left untreated. Periodontal disease causes inflammation and destruction of tissues surrounding and supporting teeth, gums, bone, and fibres that hold the gums to the teeth.
Diabetics who do not have good control over their blood sugar levels also are more prone to oral health problems. These infections occur more often in aging patients.
Many diabetics experience diminished salivary flow and burning mouth or tongue, often leading to a condition called dry mouth. Diabetics also seem to have more receding gums, because in moderate and poorly-controlled diabetic patients, plaque responds differently, creating more harmful proteins in the gums.
Dentists may prescribe antibiotics, medicated mouth rinses, and more frequent cleanings to prevent problems with bacterial infections in the diabetic’s mouth. Diabetics who receive good dental care and have good insulin control typically have a better chance at avoiding gum disease. Diet and exercise may be the most important changes that diabetics can make to improve their quality of life and their oral health. Diabetic patients should ensure that both their medical and dental care providers are aware of their medical history and periodontal status.
Diabetics are urged to make morning dental appointments because blood glucose levels tend to be under better control at this time of day.