Diabetes and oral health

Diabetes is a disease that results in too much glucose in the blood because the body either does not produce a hormone which is used to regulate the amount of glucose in the blood, or uses it inefficiently. Diabetes produces severe changes in the mouth due to the body’s altered response to fighting infections and vascular changes. An astute dentist will notice such changes.

A loss of fluid from the body – and changes in the blood supply to salivary glands causes a decrease in the amount of saliva present in the mouth.

This can be devastating to the mouth as saliva is a fabulous substance. It performs many important functions for us – for example, saliva contains nutrients for the teeth and gum and anti-bacterial matter to protect us – and saliva lubricates and protects our oral environment.

Poor diabetes management and the presence of calculus – that yucky mixture of food, saliva and bacteria that sets hard and sticks to your teeth – increases the severity of periodontal disease, with diabetic patients having more severe cases than people who are not diabetic.

Periodontal disease was also found to occur at a younger age in diabetic patients.

Type 1 Diabetes accounts for 10-15 percent of diagnoses – mostly affecting young people.

Type 2 Diabetes is one of the fastest growing chronic diseases in Australia.

The oral complications of uncontrolled diabetes can include but are not limited to:

  • Infection
  • Poor healing
  • Xerostomia – or dry mouth
  • Candidiasis – thrush of the mouth
  • Increased risk of caries (holes in teeth)
  • Gingivitis – gum disease
  • Periodontal disease – gum and bone disease
  • Abscesses – infection in the bone due to the tooth infection
  • Burning mouth syndrome

To avoid or control the above complications, a life-long management program needs to be developed on an individual basis.

The goals for a typical patient will be as follows:

  • Continually work with your medical practitioner to maintain normal blood glucose levels,
  • Exercise frequently
  • Maintain normal body weight
  • Work with your hygienist to remove all calculus and plaque on a regular basis
  • Brush properly and floss daily
  • Have regular examinations by your dentist every six months – so that any problems can be detected at an early stage

The reality is, the earlier the preventative program is put into action, the more successful it will be, talk to us at FirstBite Dental so we can create an oral health plan for you, for both the short and long term.