Gum disease can be more severe and take longer to heal if you have diabetes. In turn, having gum disease can make your blood glucose hard to control.
Plaque that is not removed hardens over time into tartar and collects above your gum line. Tartar makes it more difficult to brush and clean between your teeth. Your gums become red and swollen, and bleed easily-signs of unhealthy or inflamed gums, called gingivitis.
When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to gum disease called periodontitis. In periodontitis, the gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces, called pockets, which slowly become infected. This infection can last a long time. Your body fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Both the bacteria and your body's response to this infection start to break down the bone and the tissue that hold the teeth in place. If periodontitis is not treated, the gums, bones, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. Teeth may become loose and might need to be removed. If you have periodontitis, your dentist may send you to a periodontist, an expert in treating gum disease.
The following chart shows the most common mouth problems from diabetes.
|Problem||What It Is||Symptoms||Treatment|
|gingivitis||* unhealthy or inflamed gums||* red, swollen, and bleeding gums||* daily brushing and flossing |
* regular cleanings at the dentist
|periodontitis||* gum disease, which can change from mild to severe||* red, swollen, and bleeding gums |
* gums that have pulled away from the teeth
* long-lasting infection between the teeth and gums
* bad breath that won't go away
* permanent teeth that are loose or moving away from one another
* changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
* sometimes pus between the teeth and gums
* changes in the fit of dentures, which are teeth you can remove
|*deep cleaning at your dentist |
* medicine that your dentist prescribes
* gum surgery in severe cases
|thrush, called candidiasis||* the growth of a naturally occurring fungus that the body is unable to control||* sore, white-or sometimes red-patches on your gums, tongue, cheeks, or the roof of your mouth |
* patches that have turned into open sores
|* medicine that your doctor or dentist prescribes to kill the fungus |
* cleaning dentures
* removing dentures for part of the day or night, and soaking them in medicine that your doctor or dentist prescribes
|dry mouth, called xerostomia||*a lack of saliva in your mouth, which raises your risk for tooth decay and gum disease||*dry feeling in your mouth, often or all of the time |
* dry, rough tongue
* pain in the mouth
* cracked lips
* mouth sores or infection
* problems chewing, eating, swallowing, or talking
|taking medicine to keep your mouth wet that your doctor or dentist prescribes |
* rinsing with a fluoride mouth rinse to prevent cavities
* using sugarless gum or mints to increase saliva flow
* taking frequent sips of water
* avoiding tobacco, caffeine, and alcoholic beverages
* using a humidifier, a device that raises the level of moisture in your home, at night avoiding spicy or salty foods that may cause pain in a dry mouth
|oral burning||*a burning sensation inside the mouth caused by uncontrolled blood glucose levels||*burning feeling in the mouth |
* dry mouth
* bitter taste
* symptoms may worsen throughout the day
|*seeing your doctor, who may change your diabetes medicine |
* once your blood glucose is under control, the oral burning will go away
More symptoms of a problem in your mouth are
Check your mouth for signs of problems from diabetes. If you notice any problems, see your dentist right away. Some of the first signs of gum disease are swollen, tender, or bleeding gums. Sometimes you won't have any signs of gum disease. You may not know you have it until you have serious damage. Your best defense is to see your dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup.
Plan ahead. Talk with your doctor and dentist before the visit about the best way to take care of your blood glucose during dental work.
You may be taking a diabetes medicine that can cause low blood glucose, also called hypoglycemia. If you take insulin or other diabetes medicines, take them and eat as usual before visiting the dentist. You may need to bring your diabetes medicines and your snacks or meal with you to the dentist's office.
You may need to postpone any non emergency dental work if your blood glucose is not under control.
If you feel nervous about visiting the dentist, tell your dentist and the staff about your feelings. Your dentist can adapt the treatment to your needs. Don't let your nerves stop you from having regular checkups. Waiting too long to take care of your mouth may make things worse.
A sore mouth is common after dental work. If this happens, you might not be able to eat or chew the foods you normally eat for several hours or days. For guidance on how to adjust your usual routine while your mouth is healing, ask your doctor
Smoking makes problems with your mouth worse. Smoking raises your chances of getting gum disease, oral and throat cancers, and oral fungal infections. Smoking also discolors your teeth and makes your breath smell bad.
If you smoke, stop smoking.
You can keep your mouth healthy by taking these steps: