Diabetes and Oral Health
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects a person’s entire body, which includes the mouth. Two major forms of diabetes are type 1 and type 2. The cause of diabetes mellitus is essentially unknown although, Type 1 diabetes mellitus is believed to result from the destruction of the insulin-producing β-cells in pancreatic islets that are mediated by autoimmune mechanisms. Diabetes patient faces a higher risk of oral health issues than normal. A lot of you might wonder what the link is between diabetes and oral health. Well, The link that connects oral health with diabetes is high blood sugar. High blood sugar plays a significant role in oral health. If one does not maintain their blood sugar level properly, they are more likely to develop oral health problems.
Just as research shows, uncontrolled diabetes can risk major organs like the heart (Cardiovascular), kidneys (Diabetic nephropathy), nerves (Diabetic neuropathy) and eyes (Diabetic Retinopathy). This is because uncontrolled blood sugar levels affect white blood cells – which are the armor of our body to protect us from external threats. The weakened white blood cells fail to protect our mouth against bacterial infections due to diabetes.
In Clinical terms, diabetes can be explained as a complete lack of insulin where the immune system specifically destroys insulin-secreting beta cells in the pancreatic islets, and the body’s own immune system attacks its own cells (autoimmune disease). Insulin and glucagon are key regulators of glucose levels in circulation. Although both are produced by cells in pancreatic islets, insulin’s primary function is to stimulate cells to take up glucose.
Diabetes can cause a high risk of oral health issues like:
- Poor healing of tissues:
Another effect of uncontrolled diabetes is that it delays the healing process after any dental procedures. This can be caused due to delay in blood flow to the treatment site.
Microangiopathy is one of the major complications of diabetes mellitus. The small blood vessel changes affecting the retinal and renal vasculature are responsible for blindness and kidney failure.
- Periodontitis and other Gum issues:
Diabetes not only weakens white blood cells but also can cause the thickening of blood vessels. This can slow the nutrition flow and collection of waste from body tissues, including the mouth. When this occurs bacterial infection spread at a fast rate, causing periodontal disease. Due to this more severe gum disease can be experienced by diabetes people.
- Oral thrush:
It is a condition in which the fungus Candida albicans accumulates on the lining of your mouth. Diabetes patients who depend on antibiotics very frequently are at high risk of developing a fungal infection in the mouth and tongue. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels are perfect for fungus to thrive as high glucose levels in the saliva is the suitable condition for them. Oral Thrush can further cause a burning mouth and tongue.
- Dry mouth:
Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can affect saliva flow, by decreasing saliva production which causes dry mouth. A dry mouth can further cause several problems like ulcers, infections, tooth decay, and soreness.
The risk of oral health problems is, even more, higher for diabetes patients who smoke. Smoking amplifies the effects of diabetes on oral health. For diabetes patients, it is vital to maintain good oral hygiene to prevent any oral health issues. They should also pay special attention to their oral changes, if any changes occur consult your dentist immediately. For proper treatment do visit Dr. Siva Nagini at Raghavendra Colony, Kondapur.