Did you know that if you have diabetes, you stand a greater risk of developing dental and oral health issues? You're probably aware of the effects diabetes has on the body, but do you know how diabetes affects the mouth, teeth, and gums?
If you are a diabetic, you need to control your blood glucose levels and take various measures to ensure good oral health. Here are some dos and don'ts.
1. DO Watch Out for Oral Thrush
Because diabetics have a greater risk for developing oral thrush, you should be aware of what the condition actually is and what to look out for. Oral thrush is a fungal or yeast infection caused by a fungi known as Candida albicans.
Diabetes often affects the immune system, making one more prone to developing infections. While oral thrush isn't typically serious, you should know how to recognize it and get proper treatment. If you notice thick, white patches inside your mouth or on your tongue, oral thrush may be the cause.
See your health care provider or dentist for a professional diagnosis and treatment. Most commonly, the health care provider may prescribe some type of anti-fungal preparation. The preparation is typically in the form of a mouthwash or gel. They may also advise you to rinse your mouth with warm salt water until the infection clears up.
Another thing you can do to manage oral thrush is eat probiotic yogurt. Probiotics help to replenish the healthy bacteria in your body.
2. DON'T Let Blood Glucose Levels Get Out of Control
As a diabetic, you probably recognize the importance of keeping your blood sugar at an acceptable level. Doing so may also reduce the risk of developing problems with your oral health. Be sure to monitor your blood sugar with the use of home blood-glucose tests.
You also need to learn how to interpret the numbers and what they actually mean. If you are uncertain, discuss this with your physician. Also, ask your doctor how often you should test your blood glucose levels. Typically, twice-per-day testing is sufficient.
3. DO Treat Dry Mouth
Diabetics often experience dry mouth and excessive thirst. Your condition may make your body produce less saliva, and this may cause the dryness. Medications you take may also cause dry mouth. If your mouth becomes very dry at times, you stand a greater risk of developing dental issues.
Dry mouth often makes it difficult for bacteria and acid inside your mouth to be washed away. The buildup of acid may eventually wear down the enamel on your teeth. Chronic dry mouth also makes you more susceptible to fungal infections.
Fortunately, you can easily combat mouth dryness. Simply increasing your daily water intake may help. Avoiding alcohol may also help, as alcoholic beverages tend to be dehydrating. In addition, you might try chewing sugarless gum as doing stimulates saliva production. Oral mouthwash rinses developed for treating dry mouth may be beneficial as well.
4. DON'T Forget to Replace Your Toothbrush Periodically
Everyone should replace old toothbrushes every few months. Having diabetes makes you prone to infection; therefore, you might want to change out your toothbrush even more frequently. It is especially important to replace your toothbrush after you've has an infection.
In addition, look out for bristles that have become frayed as they may cut your gums and make you more prone to a gum infection.
In addition to following these dos and don’ts, see your dental professional as often as they recommend. Also, inform your dentist of your diabetes. They may advise postponing dental work if your blood glucose levels are high.