Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disease that affects a large part of the Indian population. Diabetes can be either Type 1 or Type 2 out of which Type 2 is more common.
The main characteristic of a diabetic patient is a high sugar level which we call hyperglycemia. If your diabetes is not controlled, you are prone to many oral problems like gum disease, decreased saliva, infections and slow healing.
Gum infection is a common dental problem for diabetic patients. Periodontitis is a disease of the gums, ligament, and bone of the oral cavity which can result in loose teeth. It occurs almost the same as in non-diabetic patients but due to the inadequate healing and immunity in diabetes, it can be more severe and take longer to resolve. However, with regular professional treatment, it can revert to normal if you take certain steps.
Diabetes also affects the function of your salivary glands. Dry mouth is a common complaint of diabetic patients, which occurs due to decreased flow of saliva. In some cases, there can be an enlargement of the gland or a risk of developing salivary gland stones or salivary gland infection. Dry mouth is also known to increase incidences of tooth decay because saliva is a natural cleanser and lubricant in the mouth.
Diabetic patients are prone to encounter a variety of infections if their sugar levels are not in control. A yeast infection is the most common in diabetes, especially if there is already a case of dry mouth. It is characterized by reddening of oral tissue, usually on the tongue, roof of the mouth, gums, inner cheeks or corners of the mouth.
Dental treatment for diabetics
Generally, if a patient of diabetes is under good medical control, they can undergo any dental treatment. The dentist wants to make sure your blood sugar does not drop during the treatment (hypoglycemia). Therefore, you should always have your meal before the dental appointment. After the treatment, follow the instructions given by the dentist and take all your prescribed medicines on time.
If you have diabetes, you can always go for any routine dental procedures like a check-up, simple fillings, and cleaning procedures. However, treatments such as extractions, surgeries, and root canal treatments may interfere with the management of your diabetes. Hence, your dentist and physician will have to formulate a suitable plan for you.
Also, the dentist might need the consent of your physician in writing before starting any invasive procedure. Diabetes is a chronic disease that puts you at risk for many dangerous ailments including heart disease, hypertension, kidney failure, blindness, and infections. Compared to healthy individuals, diabetic patients also suffer from problems in the healing process of the body. The ability of the body to fight infections is also reduced to some extent.
Here are a few ways apart from medication that definitely help to keep diabetes in control:
- Keep a regular check on your blood sugar level. Take your medications as directed, and make changes in your diet to control your blood sugar.
- Exercising regularly can help in controlling diabetes as well as keep obesity at bay. Additionally, good control of your blood sugar will help to fight against infections and dry mouth.
- Quit smoking.
- If you wear dentures, clean them every day and keep them in water overnight.
- Brush your teeth twice a day and floss each day to maintain good dental and gum health.
- Go for regular check-ups to the dental clinic so that any dental issues can be identified and resolved as early as possible.
The diabetic diet
- The good news is, you can continue eating your favorite foods but in a limited quantity or less often than usual. Try to include more vegetables and fruits in your diet.
- Broccoli, carrots, tomatoes and green leafy vegetables are a good source of antioxidants which help to keep your body healthy.
- Fruits like oranges, melons, berries, apples, bananas, and grapes are also good for you because the sugar you get from fruit is still better than sugar from processed or refined foods like biscuits and cakes.
- Whole grains should be a large part of your diet which includes oats, wheat, rice, and brown bread.
- Make sure you have plenty of proteins in your diet – chicken, fish, and eggs are good for you. Lentils, chickpeas, and tofu are great for protein as well.
- Include low-fat or non-fat dairy products in your diet such as cow milk, yogurt, and cheese.
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