Effects of Diabetes on the Oral Health By Dr. Priyanka Goyat



Diabetes is a dangerous health issue that arises when the human body starts losing or has completely lost its ability to process sugar.  One can either be afflicted with Type I of diabetes or Type II of the same, but once caught hold with any of them the functioning of human body starts degrading.  This degradation can affect any body organ, especially the eyes, kidneys, hearts, gums, and nose in particular and soon turns them into a complete disaster. According to the recent National Family Health Survey-4 conducted by the health ministry of Government of India, around 20.3 per cent people from the overall country’s population are afflicted with diabetes.

Several research works and surveys have further predicted that diabetes will soon become an epidemic if not handled with acute precaution and seriousness as the number of its patients is rising at a very fast pace of 30-50% increase each year. It is most commonly observed that the first signs and symptoms of diabetes occur in the human mouth. So paying adequate attention to the oral health needs to be a priority to ensure timely diagnosis and treatment. Periodontal (gum) disease, tooth decay, a dry mouth, fungal infections etc. are some of the most common oral and dental problems found in with the people already facing the risks of diabetes.

Is Diabetes deteriorating your beautiful smile?

Diabetes enters the human body alarmingly with the dangerously high blood sugar levels that can derogate the entire body- including the teeth and the gums.  Controlling this deadly disease from causing any harm to your beautiful smile is entirely in your hands. Remember, you need to control those steeply moving blood sugar level because the higher the level is, the higher becomes the risk of:

Tooth decay (cavities): The human mouth naturally homes numerous types of bacteria. When an excess of starches and sugars from all the foods and beverages we consume come in contact with these bacteria’s, a sticky film known as plaque forms on the teeth. The acids in plaque deteriorate the surface of your teeth, at times further leading to the irritating and painful cavities. The higher the blood sugar level, the greater becomes the supply of sugars and starches- causing the wear and tear of teeth.

Early gum disease (gingivitis): Diabetes weakens the body’s strength to fight against the bacteria. And, if you are not regular with brushing and flossing, then this will surely land you in big trouble. Because, the longer the plaque remains on your teeth, the more irritating it becomes for gingival (part of the gums around the teeth). This results in gingivitis which causes bleeding and swelling up of the gums.

Advanced gum disease (periodontitis):  The severe most phase of gingivitis is periodontitis, which erodes the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth. Eventually, this leads to complete erosion of gums and jaw-bones which possibly makes the teeth loose and fall. Periodontitis becomes an even more severe issue for the diabetics as the increase in blood sugar level decreases the body’s ability to resist infection and even slows down the healing process.

Action plan for the dental care of Diabetics

To prevent the diabetic harm to your teeth and gums, get ready to take the issue seriously and follow these easy steps:

Serious commitment is a must: Closely monitor your blood sugar levels, and do as directed by the concerned physician to keep your level in a target range only. The better you get to controlling blood sugar level, the lesser becomes the risk of you developing any dental or gum related problems.

Twice-a day brushing rule: Ideally speaking, brushing needs to be done each time after meals, in the morning after waking up and at night before going to sleep. If you are not comfortable to brush four times, then it’s recommended to at least brush twice- a day as it will better flush out all the harmful bacteria and waste. Harsh brushing will do no good as it can lead to bleeding and swelling up of gums.  And, remember to change the toothbrush at least once in every three months.

Include Flossing in daily dental routine: Flossing is a healthy exercise to remove the plaque between the teeth and under the gum line. If included in daily dental routine, this could do wonders as it easily removes the food bits and remains that the toothbrush was not able to reach.

Flush out the unhealthy lifestyle habits: Unhealthy lifestyle routines like smoking, drinking alcohol and consuming tobacco can severely increase the risks of diabetic complications, including gum disease.  These unhealthy routines need to be immediately cut down as they are dangerous for both diabetes and dental care.

By Dr. Priyanka Goyal, Dentist & Co-Founder, Rejove Clinique


Vinod Kumar

Health Journalist & writer. Editor of monthly health magazine "Health Spectrum."

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