Cochin Cardiac Club

Health Blog by Dr.Uday Nair


Diabetes is a disease that can affect the whole body, including your mouth. Dental care is particularly important for people with diabetes because they face a higher than normal risk of oral health problems due to poorly controlled blood sugars.Diabetes, through the effects of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can cause damage to the blood vessels that supply the the jaw, mouth and gums. If the blood vessels supplying the gums are blocked, partially blocked or damaged the necessary nutrients, oxygen, or the body's infection fighters can be impeded from reaching them. Because of this, diabetics are more susceptible to oral infections and the development of periodontal (gum) disease than non diabetics, and it is estimated that one-third of people with diabetes suffer from gum disease, which also tends to be more severe.

Oral heath problems

People with diabetes face a higher risk of:
  • Dry mouth — Uncontrolled diabetes can decrease saliva flow, resulting in dry mouth. Dry mouth can further lead to soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay.
  • Gum inflammation (gingivitis) and periodontitis — Besides impairing white blood cells, another complication of diabetes is that it causes blood vessels to thicken, which slows the flow of nutrients to and waste products from body tissues, including the mouth. When this combination of events happens, the body’s ability to fight infections is reduced. Since periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, people with uncontrolled diabetes might experience more frequent and more severe gum disease.

  • Poor healing of oral tissues — People with uncontrolled diabetes do not heal quickly after oral surgery or other dental procedures because blood flow to the treatment site can be impaired.
  • Thrush — People with diabetes who frequently take antibiotics to fight various infections are especially prone to developing a fungal infection of the mouth and tongue. The fungus thrives on the high glucose levels in the saliva of people with uncontrolled diabetes. Wearing dentures (especially when they are worn constantly) can also lead to fungal infections.
  • Burning mouth and/or tongue — This condition is caused by the presence of thrush.
People with diabetes who smoke are at an even higher risk(up to 20 times more likely than non-smokers)for the development of thrush and periodontal disease. Smoking also seems to impair blood flow to the gums, which might affect wound healing in this tissue area.

Warning Signs of Gum Disease

Be aware of the symptoms of gum disease — signals that your teeth are in danger:
  • Gums bleed, especially when you floss or brush.
  • Pus oozes from your gums or between your teeth.
  • Gums are swollen, red, or tender.
  • There is a change in how your teeth fit together; bridges and partial dentures don't seem to fit correctly
  • You seem to have bad breath all of the time.
  • Your gums appear to have pulled away from your teeth or your teeth look longer.
  • Your teeth become loose.

If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment to see your dentist.

Oral health
  • QUIT smoking - smokers have higher levels of gum disease, caused by poor blood circulation in the tissues around their teeth. People with diabetes who smoke have an even greater chance of having severe gum problems than non-smokers and non-diabetics.
  • Look for early signs of gum disease.
  • Keep to your healthy eating plan and take prescribed medications as your doctor directs.
  • Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft brush. Take care to remove all plaque on and between your teeth, and next to the gum line.
  • Use dental floss every day.
  • If you have dentures, remove them overnight and clean them daily.
  • Visit your dentist regularly.
  • Book your appointments for the morning when your insulin level is more stable.
  • Try to control your blood sugar level. Those with high blood sugar levels are more likely to have more severe gum problems. If you have good control of your blood sugar level and good oral care, you should have minimal problems with your oral health.

Please Note-

The principle objective is to ensure that all individuals with diabetes have proper oral health.

The growing evidence which demonstrates the relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes affirms the principle that proper oral health is necessary for good general health; meaning oral health is a vital component of everyone’s well being and deserves the same degree of attention as other types of healthcare.
Oral health assessment and treatment should become as common as the eye, foot, and kidney evaluations that are routinely performed as part of preventive medical therapies. 


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