Diabetics have a greater risk of contracting a gum infection and other dental problems. This is why it is so important for people with diabetes to take good care of their teeth by practicing good oral hygiene. Regular checkups at the dentist office are also important.
Plaque that builds up on teeth is loaded with bacteria. For diabetic, high blood sugar levels feed the bacteria. Chronically high levels of blood glucose increase the risk of gum and tooth problems. Plaque that builds up under the gums can lead to gingivitis, a condition characterized by gums that are red, swollen, and sore. If not treated, the result can be periodontal disease, which is an infection of the gums and the bones that hold teeth in place. The gums start to shrink back away from the teeth, and pus can develop in the spaces between the teeth. People with periodontal disease also frequently experience tooth loss.
The best way to avoid a serious gum infection is to practice good preventative oral hygiene. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people brush their teeth at least twice a day for at least two minutes. Brushing should include all tooth surfaces as well as gums and the gum line. The top of the tongue should also be brushed to remove bacteria. It is recommended that all people floss at least one time every day to prevent plaque from building up on teeth, between teeth, and below the gum line. An antibacterial mouth wash can further rid the mouth of disease causing bacteria. People with dentures should keep those as clean as real teeth. Smoking increases the chances of developing a gum disease and exacerbates existing mouth problems. Diabetics should also visit their dentist every six month for a routine checkup and cleaning. Of course, controlling your blood glucose levels is perhaps the most important step a diabetic can take.
Regular dentist visits are important because there are no early warning signs of gum disease. Only a dentist can confirm if you have developed a gum disease. Learn the signs of the onset of gum disease. Gums that are red, sore, swollen, bleeding, or pulling away from the teeth are diseased. Pus between the teeth is a dangerous sign of an infection. Teeth that are loose or sensitive can also be a sign of gum disease, as can bad breath.
Gum infection treatment depends on the severity of the infection. The first step in treating dental problems is scaling and root planning to remove calcifications underneath the gums and reduce infection and inflammation. A topical or oral gum infection antibiotic is used to control bacterial infections. Antibiotic mouthwashes might be used, or the dentist or periodontist might opt for antibiotic threads or gels to be placed into the spaced between teeth or in the pockets left by gums that are receding due to disease.
There are many reasons why diabetics are at a higher risk for gum infection. Diabetes can slow blood circulation, making gum tissue susceptible to infection. The disease also reduces the body’s ability to resist infection. Saliva with a high level of glucose is a haven for the bacteria that lead to gum disease. Poor oral hygiene, while a cause of gum disease in all people, is particularly problematic for diabetics because of the complications that are inherent with the condition. Because the risk is so much higher, it is vital for diabetics to practice good oral hygiene and to learn the signs of gum disease. Frequent visits to the dentist office are also necessary to detect gum disease early enough to treat it before the infection spreads.