When someone suffers from diabetes, it means that there is insufficient production of insulin by the pancreas in the body or alternately the cells in the body do not respond to the insulin produced; both factors cause non- absorption of blood sugar by the body cells.
Diabetes affects the total body functions which includes the mouth. The blood sugar level in a diabetes patient is high in the mouth and can cause health problems. The white cells in the body, which fight bacterial infections, are impaired causing thickening of the blood vessels in the mouth which reduces the ability of the body to fight infections.
High glucose in saliva helps in thriving of bacteria. Brushing the teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing at least once helps to remove food particles which may accumulate to form plaque. When the plaque accumulates it becomes even more difficult to thoroughly clean between the teeth. This can create conditions that lead to chronic accumulation and infection in the mouth.
If gingivitis is not treated, it progresses to periodontisis, a type of gum disease whereby plaque grows and spreads below the gum line. The bacteria in plaque produces toxins that stimulate a chronic inflammatory response in your body which destroys tissues and bone that support your teeth. Patients who have an inadequate blood sugar control appear to develop periodontal disease more often and more severely than people with good control of their diabetes Diabetics are likely to suffer from the following dental problems if their sugar level is not controlled:
- Dry mouth- lack of control of sugar level reduces the flow of saliva thereby results in a dry mouth. This conditions leads to infections, soreness, ulcers and tooth decay.
- Candidiasis/ oral thrush- in order to fight various, the diabetic takes antibiotics and this weakens their immune system and exposes them to infections of the mouth and tongue and this is known as oral thrush. This results in a burning sensation in the mouth and the tongue.
- Delayed healing of oral tissues- people suffering from diabetes take longer to heal if they undergo an oral surgery/ other dental procedures because they have a reduced blood flow to the area of treatments.
- Cavities- when plaque forms and sticks on teeth, the acids present in it attack the enamel in the outer surface which results in cavities. Te diabetic will have a high blood sugar level hence excess supply of sugar which supports tooth wear out.