How diabetes patients can manage dental challenges

Decayed teeth
Decayed teeth

People living with diabetes have been urged to monitor their blood pressure as there are clear connections between good oral hygiene and the treatment of high blood sugar.

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to easily preventable and serious health conditions such as dental issues.

According to the World Health Organsation, Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.

Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar.

The rise in blood sugar is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body’s systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels.

It becomes a problem when the cells cannot take in glucose and there is an excess amount of glucose in the blood stream.

This leads to greater complications as it damages the nerves, kidney, leads to fatigue and stroke.

The UN health agency said in 2016, diabetes was the direct cause of 1.6 million deaths globally.

An awareness of the lesser known complications of diabetes may bring down this figures and the month of November has been dedicated this.

Direct link

The Nigerian Dental Association (NDA) in a series of educational tweet on its twitter handle @nigdental said there is direct link between oral health – specifically, periodontal diseases and diabetes.

The tweets enlighten diabetes patients on how to take care of their oral health as poorly managed diabetes are at greater risk for dental problems.

It said people with diabetes are more likely to have infections of the gums and the bones that hold the teeth in place, because diabetes can reduce the blood supply to the gums.

According to the tweet, it is very essential to always keep blood sugar in check by doing regular assessment and generally living a healthier lifestyle.

READ ALSO: WHO moves to make insulin more accessible for diabetes patients

It said it is common for the dentist to ask about diabetic history or request a blood sugar test be carried before certain procedures “because every dentist major fear in diabetics is poor wound healing and an increased susceptibility to infections”.

“Diabetic patients are at higher risk to infections because their body defense system cannot really fight invading bacteria and this is often compounded by poorly managed diabetes.”

According to the tweet, if diabetes is left poorly managed, it can take a toll on the patient’s oral health.

The dentist said this increases the risk of having dental caries because of reduced saliva.

It explained that reduced saliva also causes dryness of the mouth which can lead to cracking and sore formation and problems tasting food.

It also added that the gum may become inflamed and bleed often especially during tooth brushing.

The tweet said that poorly managed diabetes can also delay the healing of the wound especially after tooth extraction.

It can also lead to loss of teeth resulting from damage to supporting tissues, increase risk of oral infection and enhances bad mouth odor.

The association, however, said managing diabetes is a team effort and a regular checkup and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can assist with care.

It said it is very important for diabetes patients to pay regular visits to their doctors or dentist.

The tweet explained that the effect of poorly managed diabetes on oral health is less likely to develop if the following can be done

1. Make sure blood sugar is well controlled.

2. Diet changes and healthier lifestyle

3. Avoid smoking

4. If the patient uses dentures, (a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues) they should make sure they are cleaned everyday

5. Brush twice daily with soft bristled brush to avoid gum injuries

6. Visit the dentist at least twice a year for checkup and scaling and polishing.

7. Attend clinics and adhere to medications.

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