Diabetes has a significant impact on your oral environment. Dentists can pick up symptoms in your mouth that might indicate you have diabetes before you are aware of it. High blood glucose affects saliva production and consistency, your healing ability and your susceptibility to infections, all of which can be reflected in changes in your oral health.
Oral complications of diabetes
The symptoms of diabetes that are visible in the mouth can lead to many complications, including the following:
- Poor healing
- Dry mouth (xerostomia)
- Oral thrush (candidiasis)
- Increased risk of caries (holes in teeth)
- Gum disease (gingivitis)
- Gum and bone disease (periodontal disease)
- Abscesses (an infection in the bone due to the tooth infection)
- Burning mouth syndrome (chronic sensation of burning with no identifiable cause).
- Poor diabetes management and the presence of calculus (the mixture of food, saliva and bacteria that sets hard like plaster and sticks to your teeth) increases the severity of periodontal disease. Diabetic patients have more severe cases of gum disease than people who do not have diabetes. Periodontal disease was also found to occur at a younger age in diabetic patients.
Managing diabetes involves your dentist
Because of the devastating effects of diabetes on your mouth and teeth, your dentist needs to be involved in the lifelong management of diabetes. Your physician will develop an individual program to manage your blood sugar levels, with enough flexibility to cope with any changes in the progress of the disease. Alongside this, regular dental visits are essential for treating oral problems early and avoiding the complications of diabetes on the mouth and teeth.