Oral Symptoms of Diabetes
Uncontrolled diabetes leads to a host of complications, including a higher likelihood that oral health problems will develop. This is because uncontrolled diabetes weakens white blood cells, which are the body’s main defense against bacterial infections that can occur in the mouth.
Some of the oral symptoms that might suggest diabetes include dry mouth, gum inflammation (gingivitis) and periodontitis. This is the result of decreased saliva flow, causing dry mouth, and the thickening of blood vessels, slowing the flow of nutrients to and waste products from body tissues, including the mouth. Since periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, people with uncontrolled diabetes might experience more frequent and more severe gum disease.
Other complications include slow healing of oral tissues after oral surgery and other dental procedures due to damaged blood flow. Thrush, with its accompanying burning mouth or tongue, is also common among diabetics because this mouth fungus thrives on the high glucose levels in the saliva of people with uncontrolled diabetes.
If any of these symptoms are present, consult with a doctor or dentist to rule out diabetes. If a diabetes diagnosis is given, prevention can go a long way in maintaining good oral health. It is vital to follow good oral hygiene practices, pay special attention to any changes in the mouth and call a dentist immediately if any changes occur. Suggestions to prevent or reduce oral health problems include:
Get teeth and gums cleaned and checked by a dentist at least twice a year.
Prevent plaque buildup on teeth by using dental floss at least once a day.
Brush teeth after every meal. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Remove dentures and clean them daily.
If a smoker, talk to a doctor about ways to quit.
Sourced by Dr. Jonathan Richter, DDS, FAGD, owner of Cariodontal, is located at 310 E. Shore Rd., Ste. 101, Great Neck, NY (516-282-0310 / Cariodontal.com), and Manhattan Oasis Dentistry, 525 West End Ave., Ste. 1G, New York, NY (212-874-2880 / ManhattanOasisDentistry.com).