Diabetics, especially those who have poorly controlled or long-standing diabetes, should visit their dentists on a regular basis because persistently high blood glucose levels can put them at risk for developing oral complications. In addition to seeking regular dental care, diabetics should take their prescribed anti-glycemic medications, follow their therapeutic diet, and maintain a healthy weight. Here are some potential oral complications of diabetes and why you should seek regular dental care to help lower your risk.
Oral Yeast Infections
Poorly controlled diabetes may raise your risk for yeast infections inside your mouth. High blood glucose levels can cause candida overgrowth in the oral cavity which can cause white patches to develop on your tongue, inner cheeks, hard palate, and back of your throat. Furthermore, the skin surrounding the white patches may appear red, and while candidiasis oral infections are typically not painful, the patches may feel irritated and may bleed when scraped.
If your dentist discovers the presence of oral candida, an antifungal mouthwash may be prescribed. The chlorhexidine in the mouthwash is effective in eliminating the most common strains of yeast, and once the yeast has been eliminated, the white patches and other symptoms will resolve. It is important to note that, even though your anti-fungal mouthwash will eliminate the candida infection inside your mouth, you will also need to maintain healthy blood sugar levels so that the yeast infection does not return.
Although periodontal disease is not exclusive to diabetics, they may have a greater risk of developing it than non-diabetics. Periodontal disease is a severe form of gum disease that not only affects the soft tissue of the gums but can also destroy the underlying bones of the gums. Diabetes can lead to suppressed immunity and poor healing, and not only can these conditions make diabetics more likely to get periodontal disease, but they may also promote its progression.
Diabetes-related impaired immunity and delayed healing necessitate more frequent dental visits. If periodontal disease is severe, the dentist may refer the diabetic patient to a specialist known as a periodontist for further evaluation and treatment. Failure to seek treatment for periodontal disease may result in severe infection or tooth loss.
If you have diabetes, see both your physician and dental professional on a regular basis. When you work with both of these healthcare providers, you may be less likely to develop both systemic and oral complications of high blood sugar levels.