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When you have diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels can damage many parts of your body, including your mouth and teeth. Diabetes increases your risk of gum disease, cavities and tooth loss, dry mouth, and a variety of oral infections.

Conversely, poor oral health can make your diabetes more difficult to control. Infections may cause your blood sugar to rise and require more insulin to keep it under control.

In addition, diabetes can diminish your ability to taste sweets. Although this change may not be noticeable, it can influence your food choices in favor of additional sweeter tasting foods, thereby affecting your dental health, as well as your ability to control your diabetes.

Awareness of potential oral complications from diabetes will improve your chances of maintaining a healthy mouth and sound teeth.

Tooth and gum damage: Diabetes can take a toll

Day in and day out, high blood sugar caused by diabetes can contribute to progressive damage to your teeth and gums, which may cause tooth loss. Here's how it happens.

Plaque: Diabetes feeds this cavity-causing menace

An invisible film of bacteria, saliva and food particles (dental plaque) normally covers teeth. The bacteria feed on the sugars and starches in the foods and beverages you consume and produce acids that damage the hard enamel coating of your teeth.

Higher blood sugar that accompanies diabetes gives the bacteria a greater supply of sugars and starches, leading to production of even more acid. Damage from this acid increases the risk of tooth decay (cavities).

Gum disease: From irritation to tooth loss

Dental plaque can also cause other problems. If you don't remove it from your teeth with regular brushing and flossing, it hardens under your gumline into a substance called tartar, or calculus.

Tartar irritates the gums and causes gingivitis. This makes the gums tender, swollen and red, and they may bleed when you brush your teeth. Fortunately, your dentist or dental hygienist can prevent or treat gingivitis by removing tartar during a professional dental cleaning.

Untreated gingivitis leads to a more serious condition when bacteria infect your gums and the bones around your teeth (periodontitis). This can cause your gums to pull away from your teeth and your teeth to loosen and even fall out.

Gingivitis and periodontitis are the most common oral complications of diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes, you're three times as likely to develop such gum disease as is someone who doesn't have diabetes. Diabetes lowers your body's resistance to many infections and slows the rate at which you heal.

In addition, some research suggests that people with gum infections may be at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. One theory is that bacteria from the mouth enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation throughout the body, including the arteries. This may be linked with the development of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

To help prevent damage to your teeth and gums:

-See your dentist at least twice a year, and make sure your dentist knows that you have diabetes.
-Brush your teeth twice a day, using a soft nylon toothbrush, and brush the upper surface of your tongue.
-Floss every day.
-Look for early signs of gum disease, such as bleeding gums, redness and swelling. If you notice them, see your dentist.


Diabetes and the rest of your mouth

Your teeth and gums aren't the only parts of your mouth at risk. The following problems also can occur ? and while you might not be able to totally prevent them, you can minimize the trouble they cause you.

Dry mouth

Dry mouth (xerostomia) occurs when your salivary glands don't produce sufficient saliva to keep your mouth moist. Dryness contributes to cavities and gum disease, because saliva helps wash away the bacteria that contribute to these conditions.

Dry mouth also causes tissues in your mouth to become inflamed and sore. You may find that chewing, tasting and swallowing become difficult. If this reduces your interest in eating, it can make controlling your diabetes more challenging, since you may not eat properly and keep your blood sugar in control.

Your dentist may suggest an artificial saliva substitute to relieve the discomfort from dry mouth. Sucking on sugar-free candy or chewing sugar-free gum and frequently drinking water also may help ease dryness.

Fungal infection

Candida albicans is a fungus that normally lives inside your mouth without causing any problems. But when you have diabetes, deficient saliva in your mouth and extra sugar in the saliva that you do produce allows the fungus to cause an infection called candidiasis (thrush), which appears as sore white or red areas in your mouth.

To treat the infection, your dentist or doctor can prescribe an antifungal medication that you let dissolve in your mouth, or one that you take in pill form.

Not smoking and limiting the time dentures are worn can reduce your risk of getting thrush.

Oral lichen planus

Oral lichen planus is a skin disorder that produces sores in the mouth. When severe, this disorder causes painful ulcers that erode the lining tissue (mucous membrane) in your mouth.

Although there is no permanent cure, your dentist may prescribe a topical anesthetic or other medication to reduce or relieve symptoms.

Burning mouth syndrome

If you have this condition, you may feel severe burning and pain in your mouth even though you don't see any problems in your mouth that could be causing it.

Dry mouth and candidiasis can cause burning mouth syndrome, so treating these conditions can alleviate the symptoms. Medications also may be prescribed to relieve the pain.


Oral surgery and diabetes: A delicate mix

If you need oral surgery, diabetes ? particularly if poorly controlled ? can complicate such surgery. Diabetes retards healing and increases risk of infection.

Your blood sugar levels also may be harder to control after oral surgery. The levels may fluctuate as a result of the stress of the surgery and inability to eat your normal diet due to discomfort.

Keeping your blood sugar levels under control before and after the surgery reduces the risk of such complications. Your dentist also may need to work closely with your doctor to minimize possible complications.

If you need oral surgery, follow the American Diabetes Association's recommendations:

-Remind your dentist that you have diabetes. Also, discuss any problems you have with infections or with controlling your blood sugar.

-Eat before your dental visit. The best time for dental work is when your blood sugar is in a normal range, which allows for better healing. If your blood sugar level is out of control when you have a dental surgery scheduled, you may need to postpone the procedure until it's in control.

-Take your usual medications. Your dentist should consult with your doctor about whether you need to adjust your diabetes medications or take an antibiotic to prevent infection before dental surgery. Unless your dentist or doctor tells you to change your medication schedule, continue taking your medications.

-Plan for your eating needs after surgery. If you're having any dental work done that may leave your mouth sore, plan to eat soft or liquid foods that will allow you to eat without pain.

-Wait until your blood sugar is under control. It's best to have surgery when your blood sugar levels are within your goal range. If your dental needs are urgent and your blood sugar is poorly controlled, talk to your dentist and doctor about receiving dental treatments in a hospital or other setting where medical professionals can keep closer tabs on your recovery after surgery.

If you have diabetes, you likely know the need to take certain precautions to keep your body working properly. To enjoy better oral health ? which in turn can help keep your blood sugar in control ? also treat your mouth and teeth with extra care and see your dentist regularly.
 

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Diabetes can take a toll on your teeth and gums.
Face a higher-than-normal risk of dental health problems due to poorly.
 

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Thanks Terrie, this should be a stickey.
 

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Hi There: :welcome:

Yes, you sure have that right. Diabetes and dental both affect our health in so many ways.
 

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Good dental care is particularly important for people with diabetes because they face a higher-than-normal risk of dental health problems due to poorly controlled blood sugars.
 

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Hello Shirley, welcome to Diabetes Forum. Tell us more about yourself. Do you have any questions?

Richard
 

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Thanks for this post. I have had a lot of dental problems with my diabetes but thankfully we have a good dental scheme for diabetics where I live.

Any diabetic from Australia who reads this, and if they aren't aware, at present you can claim $AUD4,250.00 in rebates from Medicare for NON-COSMETIC (read essential) dental work within a 24 month period. I'm just saying this because I know a number of diabetics who weren't aware of this until I told them.

Have a look on the Medicare Australia website for more info.

Dental work is so expensive and I didn't have the money to take care of all the work I needed to have done until I found this out.

PS - I'm not promoting a commercial product here, this is an initiative by the Australian government. Hope that's cool :)
 

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Thanks Terri. This is the first time I have seen anything like this on any of the forums. I am aware of all the potential issues as my wife worked for a dentist for almost 20 years. We are good friends with the hygienist and she has been great making sure I get in at least twice a year for a full cleaning. I never thought to put together a notice such as you did. I probably just took it for granted that we all just know these things. Thanks again.
 

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Hi,

Good oral hygiene must be practiced to maintain a health mouth. Tooth decay affects many people despite consistent brushing. That is because many people do not brush correctly, use the wrong type of toothbrush, don’t use dental floss, or don’t use it properly, and eats too much sugar and fructose.

To avoid dental problems, we need to use proper oral hygiene with the right tools (like a properly designed toothbrush with soft bristles, dental floss, and a water irrigator) ourselves, and also go to the dentist for checkups, cleanings, and correction of problems or breakdown.
 

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Hi,

Good oral hygiene must be practiced to maintain a health mouth. Tooth decay affects many people despite consistent brushing. That is because many people do not brush correctly, use the wrong type of toothbrush, don’t use dental floss, or don’t use it properly, and eats too much sugar and fructose.

To avoid dental problems, we need to use proper oral hygiene with the right tools (like a properly designed toothbrush with soft bristles, dental floss, and a water irrigator) ourselves, and also go to the dentist for checkups, cleanings, and correction of problems or breakdown.
Hi Robert,

Thanks a lot for sharing this useful information.

The dental care needs a huge concentration in all individual’s life. The fact is that most of the people do not know how valuable is these dental insurances. A lot of people are also less well-informed about the significant role that the dental insurance plays in covering all your dental treatments. For this reason it is very much obligatory to get knowledgeable about the insurances & make the maximum use of their advantages.
 

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Completely agree with you - those with diabetes, should give extra attention to taking care of their mouths. There are certain conditions that diabetics should be cautious about. Dry mouth is one and I’m suffering from it. Saliva actually has a role in washing away bacteria. If there is not enough saliva, cavities and gum disease can start. To help ease my dry mouth, I’m using natural dry mouth products. These can relieve discomfort and dryness. Do not neglect doing regular visits to the dentist.
 

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The different factors that cause dental illnesses usually operates in a cause and effect fashion This development, when left untreated, goes to more and more complications, triggering a chain effect like pattern. To illustrate, let us consider a small tooth cavity. At its initial stages, pain is not yet felt. But as soon as these small cavities grow bigger and bigger, it eventually causes infection on the nerve. As soon as this infection realizes, we can now feel the excruciating pain identified in a toothache. This condition requires expensive dental treatment, such as root canal or extraction.
 

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Dental care

I found all these postings very helpful. I'm going through a rather traumatic time, getting used to insulin injections and getting it right (seem to have a reaction on the injection site) and also going through a year of dental deterioration with a lot of work being done. I get trigeminal neuralgia after any dental work, yet still have to have it done. So, months of drugs and anti-biotics so far. Considered a few implants to close the gaps, but the whole concept was shown to be not a good idea today as the jawbone cannot take the screws. So it looks like a partial dental plate. I cannot afford to get any further infections in my gums as they take MONTHS to clear up.
I'm posting this, as I never thought that my teeth would be my biggest problem when I became diabetic!!
Maureen
 

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When you have diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels can damage many parts of your body, including your mouth and teeth. Diabetes increases your risk of gum disease, cavities and tooth loss, dry mouth, and a variety of oral infections.

Conversely, poor oral health can make your diabetes more difficult to control. Infections may cause your blood sugar to rise and require more insulin to keep it under control.

In addition, diabetes can diminish your ability to taste sweets. Although this change may not be noticeable, it can influence your food choices in favor of additional sweeter tasting foods, thereby affecting your dental health, as well as your ability to control your diabetes.

Awareness of potential oral complications from diabetes will improve your chances of maintaining a healthy mouth and sound teeth.

Tooth and gum damage: Diabetes can take a toll

Day in and day out, high blood sugar caused by diabetes can contribute to progressive damage to your teeth and gums, which may cause tooth loss. Here's how it happens.

Plaque: Diabetes feeds this cavity-causing menace

An invisible film of bacteria, saliva and food particles (dental plaque) normally covers teeth. The bacteria feed on the sugars and starches in the foods and beverages you consume and produce acids that damage the hard enamel coating of your teeth.

Higher blood sugar that accompanies diabetes gives the bacteria a greater supply of sugars and starches, leading to production of even more acid. Damage from this acid increases the risk of tooth decay (cavities).

Gum disease: From irritation to tooth loss

Dental plaque can also cause other problems. If you don't remove it from your teeth with regular brushing and flossing, it hardens under your gumline into a substance called tartar, or calculus.

Tartar irritates the gums and causes gingivitis. This makes the gums tender, swollen and red, and they may bleed when you brush your teeth. Fortunately, your dentist or dental hygienist can prevent or treat gingivitis by removing tartar during a professional dental cleaning.

Untreated gingivitis leads to a more serious condition when bacteria infect your gums and the bones around your teeth (periodontitis). This can cause your gums to pull away from your teeth and your teeth to loosen and even fall out.

Gingivitis and periodontitis are the most common oral complications of diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes, you're three times as likely to develop such gum disease as is someone who doesn't have diabetes. Diabetes lowers your body's resistance to many infections and slows the rate at which you heal.

In addition, some research suggests that people with gum infections may be at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. One theory is that bacteria from the mouth enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation throughout the body, including the arteries. This may be linked with the development of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

To help prevent damage to your teeth and gums:

-See your dentist at least twice a year, and make sure your dentist knows that you have diabetes.
-Brush your teeth twice a day, using a soft nylon toothbrush, and brush the upper surface of your tongue.
-Floss every day.
-Look for early signs of gum disease, such as bleeding gums, redness and swelling. If you notice them, see your dentist.


Diabetes and the rest of your mouth

Your teeth and gums aren't the only parts of your mouth at risk. The following problems also can occur ? and while you might not be able to totally prevent them, you can minimize the trouble they cause you.

Dry mouth

Dry mouth (xerostomia) occurs when your salivary glands don't produce sufficient saliva to keep your mouth moist. Dryness contributes to cavities and gum disease, because saliva helps wash away the bacteria that contribute to these conditions.

Dry mouth also causes tissues in your mouth to become inflamed and sore. You may find that chewing, tasting and swallowing become difficult. If this reduces your interest in eating, it can make controlling your diabetes more challenging, since you may not eat properly and keep your blood sugar in control.

Your dentist may suggest an artificial saliva substitute to relieve the discomfort from dry mouth. Sucking on sugar-free candy or chewing sugar-free gum and frequently drinking water also may help ease dryness.

Fungal infection

Candida albicans is a fungus that normally lives inside your mouth without causing any problems. But when you have diabetes, deficient saliva in your mouth and extra sugar in the saliva that you do produce allows the fungus to cause an infection called candidiasis (thrush), which appears as sore white or red areas in your mouth.

To treat the infection, your dentist or doctor can prescribe an antifungal medication that you let dissolve in your mouth, or one that you take in pill form.

Not smoking and limiting the time dentures are worn can reduce your risk of getting thrush.

Oral lichen planus

Oral lichen planus is a skin disorder that produces sores in the mouth. When severe, this disorder causes painful ulcers that erode the lining tissue (mucous membrane) in your mouth.

Although there is no permanent cure, your dentist may prescribe a topical anesthetic or other medication to reduce or relieve symptoms.

Burning mouth syndrome

If you have this condition, you may feel severe burning and pain in your mouth even though you don't see any problems in your mouth that could be causing it.

Dry mouth and candidiasis can cause burning mouth syndrome, so treating these conditions can alleviate the symptoms. Medications also may be prescribed to relieve the pain.


Oral surgery and diabetes: A delicate mix

If you need oral surgery, diabetes ? particularly if poorly controlled ? can complicate such surgery. Diabetes retards healing and increases risk of infection.

Your blood sugar levels also may be harder to control after oral surgery. The levels may fluctuate as a result of the stress of the surgery and inability to eat your normal diet due to discomfort.

Keeping your blood sugar levels under control before and after the surgery reduces the risk of such complications. Your dentist also may need to work closely with your doctor to minimize possible complications.

If you need oral surgery, follow the American Diabetes Association's recommendations:

-Remind your dentist that you have diabetes. Also, discuss any problems you have with infections or with controlling your blood sugar.

-Eat before your dental visit. The best time for dental work is when your blood sugar is in a normal range, which allows for better healing. If your blood sugar level is out of control when you have a dental surgery scheduled, you may need to postpone the procedure until it's in control.

-Take your usual medications. Your dentist should consult with your doctor about whether you need to adjust your diabetes medications or take an antibiotic to prevent infection before dental surgery. Unless your dentist or doctor tells you to change your medication schedule, continue taking your medications.

-Plan for your eating needs after surgery. If you're having any dental work done that may leave your mouth sore, plan to eat soft or liquid foods that will allow you to eat without pain.

-Wait until your blood sugar is under control. It's best to have surgery when your blood sugar levels are within your goal range. If your dental needs are urgent and your blood sugar is poorly controlled, talk to your dentist and doctor about receiving dental treatments in a hospital or other setting where medical professionals can keep closer tabs on your recovery after surgery.

If you have diabetes, you likely know the need to take certain precautions to keep your body working properly. To enjoy better oral health ? which in turn can help keep your blood sugar in control ? also treat your mouth and teeth with extra care and see your dentist regularly.
Yes, high blood sugars also make you more suscepible to abcesses in your gums, causing the teeth to die and to be removed surgically. I have lost 6 teeth because of this happening to me but am still proud that I have the rest. I am almost 42 and know people who are much younger and have revolting teeth but let them break off etc so I am probably healthier than they are!!!!
 

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Whether you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, managing your blood sugar level is key. The higher your blood sugar level, the higher your risk of: Tooth decay (cavities), Early gum disease (gingivitis), Advanced gum disease (periodontitis) etc.
Dentist Carlisle PA
 
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