Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The Importance of Good Dental Care for Diabetics
Although proper dental care is important for everyone, diabetics need to pay a little more attention to their oral hygiene routine than non-diabetics do. This is because individuals with diabetes are more likely to have problems with their gums and teeth, as well as suffer more serious consequences. Good dental care is therefore an important part of the process of successfully managing diabetes.
Gum disease occurs when bacteria in the mouth forms into a sticky substance called plaque, which sits on the surface of the teeth. If it's not removed by proper brushing, then over time plaque will cause inflammation of the gums - a condition called gingivitis. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen gums and bleeding when brushing teeth. If left untreated, periodontitis, a more extreme type of gingivitis, will follow, causing teeth to become loose and eventually fall out.
One of the side-effects of diabetes is that infection is able to spread easily through the body. It's therefore important that diabetics try to keep their blood glucose levels under control in order to try to reduce the risk of infection spreading and thus avoid developing gum disease. Unfortunately, however, when the body has to fight infection, blood glucose levels can increase, which can in turn affect food intake resulting in adverse effects on a sufferer's well-being.
Oral thrush can also be a problem for diabetics. This condition is caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida and results in painful lesions in the mouth. If an individual's diabetes is not well controlled, his or her saliva may contain a lot of sugar, thereby creating the perfect environment for the growth of this fungus.
Steps for good dental care include the following:
Visit a dentist every six months. This will help identify any infection that may have developed or be in the early stages of developing and enable it to be treated. It will also help to prevent any dental problems escalating. Routine dental checks are important for diabetics because bacteria entering the bloodstream may increase the speed at which cholesterol clogs the arteries, an important issue for someone with diabetes as excess build-up of cholesterol in the bloodstream is a symptom of the condition.
Use a good quality toothbrush. It should have soft nylon bristles with rounded tips. A dentist will be able to recommend the best type.
Use a toothpaste containing fluoride, which will help to keep teeth strong. An anti-bacterial mouthwash may also be beneficial. Again, a dentist will be able to recommend a suitable one.
Diabetics should always ensure that any dentist they visit knows about their condition. As high blood sugar levels may affect the time it takes for gums and teeth to heal after treatment, a dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help avoid infection.
There is no need for a diabetic to change his or her dental hygiene routine significantly. Following a healthy eating plan and taking regular exercise are the best ways to help to keep blood glucose levels under control, which will also help to keep gums and teeth healthy.