Diabetics Need Extra Dental Care

phoenix_dentistIf you are diabetic, you may need to see your dentist more often than your non-diabetic friends and relatives. The way the body controls sugar becomes unreliable in diabetics, and that contributes to possible problems your dentist needs to know about.

“The biggest early problem for diabetics is dry mouth,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix office. “Dry mouth is the starting point for so many problems—including gingivitis and then periodontal disease, and can quickly lead to tooth loss. If you are diabetic, seeing your dentist regularly can help you get treatment more quickly and save your teeth,” continues Dr. Ford.

WebMD’s oral health section warns of one of the results of diabetes–impaired white blood cells, ”which are the body’s main defense against bacterial infections that can occur in the mouth.” Without the defense of white-blood cells, common infections can go from mild to serious in a short time.

Another complication of diabetes, says WebMD is “that it causes blood vessels to thicken, which slows the flow of nutrients to and waste products from body tissues, including the mouth. When this combination of events happens, the body’s ability to fight infections is reduced. “ Since periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, it’s common for diabetics to have more frequent and severe bouts of gum disease.

Those thickened blood vessel walls also interfere with easy blood flow. “A diabetic patient, particularly an uncontrolled diabetic, can heal much more slowly after dental procedures,” says Dr. Ford. “The site needs to be watched more carefully and for a longer time in diabetics to make sure healing is complete,” Dr. Ford adds.

The American Dental Association also advises that diabetics must guard against Thrush, also known as oral candidiasis. This “fungal infection in the mouth appears to occur more frequently among persons with diabetes including those who wear dentures. Your dentist may prescribe antifungal medications to treat this condition.” Since Thrush is easier to treat if caught at an early stage, it pays to visit your dentist regularly, especially if you are taking antibiotics, which create an environment that supports Thrush.

“Diabetes can cause a lot of problems,” says Dr. Ford, “but regular visits can prevent a small problem from getting worse.” Dr. Ford adds, “There’s no reason diabetics can’t have a sparkling smile, but it’s more likely if they visit their dentist often to maintain it.”

 

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