Taking care of your teeth and gums with diabetes

Symptoms of diabetes
Symptoms of diabetes

Gum disease, in particular, often affects diabetics who may also be prone to other mouth infections. Cape-based dentist, Dr Marc Sher, answers the following questions about this issue.

1.    How does diabetes affect oral hygiene?

– Uncontrolled type 2 diabetics (non-insulin dependent) suffer from poor oral hygiene.

– This group of patients are mostly overweight, and their diet consists largely of sugars/carbohydrates, the consequence of which leads to rampant tooth decay.

– Advanced stages of gum disease, known as periodontal disease is accelerated in this type of patient.

– Dry mouth syndrome as a result of polyuria (passage of large volumes of urine) and dehydration, adds to the development of tooth decay and bad breath.

– Candidiasis (oral thrush) is often seen in this group.

2. Are diabetics prone to mouth ulcers?

– Yes, this group is classified as having an immunodeficiency, which is a predisposing factor to developing mouth ulcers.

– Due to the fact that type 2 diabetics take an oral hypoglycaemic drug, they can develop oral lichenoid reactions as a result. Oral lichenoid reactions are not ulcers as such, but the lesions can ulcerate in severe cases.

3. How to dentally treat and manage diabetic patients.

– It is best to time the dental treatment on diabetic patients (type 1) as to not interrupt their scheduled insulin intake. Diabetic coma can result if insulin is not administered in time.

– Diabetic patients (type 2) are at risk of developing a hypoglycaemic coma in the dental chair if a scheduled meal time is missed. It is best to treat these patients soon after they have eaten to avoid this.
– A more rigorous oral hygiene routine is required for patients who are more prone to periodontal disease. Cleaning every 3 months is required.

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