Oral health and the impact of diabetes


Diabetes is a condition that affects millions of people across the world. People living with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing oral health problems. Therefore, it is even more important to ensure that their teeth and gums are well looked after.

Dental health professionals can play a role in helping people with diabetes to reduce their chances of developing dental complications from the condition. In this post, we share the possible oral health complications associated with diabetes, and what dental professionals can do to help patients look after their teeth and gums.

Diabetes can lead to gum disease and heart problems

Gum disease can increase the risk of heart disease because the bacteria in the gums can enter the blood stream and restrict blood flow to the heart. As people with diabetes are at a higher risk of having high cholesterol, this complication from gum diseases is especially important to prevent. Dentists should therefore seek to explain to patients why it is important to maintain good oral health and prevent gum disease.

Alteration of dental treatments

Having high blood sugar levels can affect the time it takes for gums to heal. This is a complication of diabetes that dentists need to consider when carrying out procedures that may result in gum damage such as having a tooth removed. When such treatment is carried out, patients with diabetes should be encouraged to contact their dentists or diabetes healthcare team for advice and further care if the healing time is taking longer than expected.

Diabetes increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease

People with diabetes can experience high blood sugar levels for prolonged periods. When blood sugar levels are high, there is more sugar in saliva, which results in increased bacteria in the mouth. The bacteria then erodes tooth enamel and can lead to damaged gums and other dental health complications. Dental professionals should explain to patients why it is important to manage blood sugar levels. Dentists can also ensure that patients with diabetes brush their teeth regularly and see dentists at least twice per year so that disease and damage are identified early so they can be reversed through improved oral hygiene.

Smoking increases the risk of oral health problems 

Patients with diabetes should be encouraged to eat a healthy, balanced diet low in sugar. In addition, they should be supported in stopping smoking. Smoking increases the risk of many health conditions including oral cancer, smoking also weakens the immune system. This not only makes it harder for patients to fight infection but may also increase the time needed to recover from dental treatment.

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