With cases of Diabetes on the rise, here at EDG we often see patients affected by this disease. Oral conditions, such as gum disease and tooth decay, have been shown to have a strong link to diabetes. So what should diabetic patients be aware of?
Periodontitis (gum disease)
Periodontitis is caused by accumulation of bacterial plaque, tartar and food debris. This irritates the gums, making them swell and bleed. If left untreated this bacterial infection also destroys the bone around teeth.
High blood glucose levels in diabetes affect inflammation, blood supply and collagen metabolism, reducing healing capacity. All this speeds up tissue destruction – in diabetic patients with periodontitis this destroys gum and bone around the teeth quicker than usual.
Signs and symptoms of gum disease are
- Red, swollen, tender, bleeding gums
- Pus discharge from the gums
- Bad taste/breath
- Loose gums that come away from the teeth
- Loose teeth
Prevention and Treatment includes thorough oral hygiene – brushing and flossing, as well as regular professional dental cleans.
Increased blood glucose levels in diabetes means that sufferers may have more glucose (sugar) in the saliva, as well as a dry mouth.
In type 1 diabetes patients often fear fainting from hypoglycaemia, thus often have something sweet on hand. These sugary snacks also raise glucose levels, making the mouth more prone to sugar-hungry bacteria, which leads to tooth decay.
Tooth decay often presents as
- Sensitivity to cold/hot/sweets and acidic foods/drinks
- Loose filling (with underlying decay)
- Dark cavities/holes in the teeth
- Flaky, soft tooth enamel
Prevention and Treatment for tooth decay includes
- Good oral hygiene to remove bacterial plaque
- Reducing sugars in the diet
- Regular check-ups and cleans with a dentist
- Monitoring and filling any decayed teeth to prevent their loss
Oral fungal infections (candidiasis)
High glucose levels in saliva, dry mouth and poor resistance to infection can contribute to oral thrush. It presents as:
- Red or white patches inside the mouth
- Sores in the corners of the lips
Prevention and treatment will include good diet and oral hygiene, as well as antifungal medication.
Please do not hesitate to discuss diabetes and your general and oral health at your next dental check-up, we are always here to help!