Diabetes is an illness that affects thousands of people, both children and adults, each year. It causes high blood sugar that isn’t controlled by the body’s insulin any longer and requires outside assistance in form of medications. When the blood sugar is elevated and uncontrolled the body reacts in ways that damages the arterial and venous blood vessels, which can result in a higher risk for peripheral vascular disease, heart disease, stroke, blindness, and infertility.
One of the other side effects of an increased amount of blood sugar floating around the body is that the body becomes a breeding ground for infection, including the mouth. There has been research to suggest that people with diabetes will have an increased risk of tooth decay and there is now recent research that links diabetes to gum disease. Scientists theorize that gum disease can cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream and activate cells that produce an inflammatory response and can damage or destroy the cells in the body that produce insulin.
When you are performing diabetes dental care you will be looking for gum disease, mouth infections, bad breath and thrush which is an infection that is caused by a fungal growth in the mouth. Diabetes dental care involves the evaluation process mentioned above and also adequate control of your blood glucose. When the blood glucose is out of control then the body is more apt to develop infections, pus, gum disease, and dry mouth. With good diabetic control you can decrease your risk of dry mouth, infection and thrush.
When dentists teach and train their patients about diabetes dental care at home they include adequate amounts of flossing and brushing to decrease the amount of bacteria that commonly lives in the mouth. This bacteria can increase the risk of dry mouth, gum inflammation, bad breath, poor healing of oral tissues and a burning mouth or tongue. People with diabetes who also smoke are at an even higher risk for thrush and periodontal disease. Smoking appears to decrease the blood flow to the gums that affects wound healing.
People who perform diabetes dental care should floss each evening being careful to get behind the last tooth on the upper and lower jaws. Brushing should be done at least three times each day and optimally not more than 5 minutes after each time you’ve eaten.
People with diabetes dental care at home should also see their dentist at least twice a year for a cleaning and evaluation of the mouth. Your dentist is best able to measure the depth of the pockets in the gum line that will help to determine how well you are performing your dental care.
Keep your blood sugar as close to normal as possible under the guidance of your physician. At each visit to the dentist they may want to know your average blood glucose numbers and your HgA1C that will give them an idea of well your diabetes is controlled. Another tip is to have your diabetes doctor speak with your dentist about your medical condition before any procedures are performed. If you become hypoglycemic be sure your dentist knows and also knows when the last episode of hypoglycemia has happened.