Over 29 million people in the world struggle with diabetes. Being a chronic disease, the word struggle is a very accurate description. Those learning to live with diabetes are in a constant battle to maintain proper blood sugar levels. It’s a delicate balance that can be very difficult to predict and control. Over time, high blood sugar levels can lead to nerve damage, causing diabetics pain in their extremities. In rare instances, this can lead to loss of limbs. Additionally, complications such as cardiovascular disease, kidney or eye damage, skin conditions and hearing impairment are also potential. Even though there are many things to worry about when it comes to diabetes, oral health issues need to be considered too.
On a daily basis, those affected by diabetes have to check their blood sugar levels throughout the day. Technology has come a long way, but diabetics still must prick their fingers to test their blood sugar levels. They must plan their meals and how far apart they are. They need to have snacks on hand at all times and to be aware of their bodies’ reactions to their need for insulin. Three main side-effects of diabetes can affect oral health in particular. Keeping an eye on these are just as essential for overall health as well.
Less Saliva – Dry mouth is a common side effect of diabetes that can wreak havoc on your oral health. Smaller amounts of saliva cannot properly wash away food particles and bacteria from your mouth. This can lead to cavities.
Weakened Immune System – Diabetics often experience a compromised immune system that cannot fight off infection as well as an average healthy person. This can lead to mouth infections. A yeast oral infection called thrush and periodontal disease can be more common in diabetics.
Poor or Slow Healing – Inconsistent control of blood sugar levels can keep injuries or sores from healing quickly or properly. A cut or a cold sore in your mouth that never seems to go away can be an issue.
It can be a difficult road for diabetics but there is good news when it comes to these symptoms. With a commitment to taking charge of your blood sugar levels, the potential for these issues is greatly reduced. A continued and dedicated oral health routine goes a long way to helping as well. Brushing and flossing daily, visiting your dentist regularly for cleanings and check-ups and addressing any concerns immediately are all important. Of course, for every diabetic, a proper and healthy diet is essential. When you commit to your diabetic health needs, the rest of your overall health, including dental will be better.