Diabetes and Dental Concerns

Dental Patients who have diabetes should inform their dentist about their condition in order to assist the dentist is providing appropriate care for them.  Whether you have had diabetes for a long time or were recently diagnosed, this information can play a vital role in your dentist assisting you in maintaining your teeth and gums healthy. As with all medications you may be taking, these may affect your ability to maintain optimal oral health if not addressed properly.

Among the most common problems associated with diabetes are:

  1. Potential salivary gland dysfunction leading to dry mouth and increased risk for cavities (tooth decay).
  2. Higher risk for infection due to poor blood supply (periodontal disease).
  3. Increased tooth loss due to gum infection leading to bone loss.
  4. Slower healing after dental surgery (extractions, gum surgery, implants).
  5. Burning mouth syndrome, and taste impairment.
  6. Oral candidiasis (yeast infections) and lichen planus (mouth ulcers).

Some habits/situations that can increase the risk for dental problems when a patient has diabetes:

  1. Smoking, coffee and alcohol can reduce saliva flow thereby increasing the risk for dry mouth and poor healing.
  2. Lack of good regular oral hygiene. (Both home care as well as professional cleanings.) Leaving sugary food particles on the teeth will assist the bacteria in breaking this down to plaque and eventually harden to calculus if not cleaned off. This contributes to gum irritation, bone loss and decay. Most diabetic patients require more regular cleanings in order to help maintain ideal oral health.
  3. Poor diet will increase diabetes risk and slow healing. Foods that are higher in sugar and starch will increase the risk for decay.

What can the diabetic patient do?

  1. Regular screenings for diabetes and take medications as prescribed by your physician.
  2. Good oral home care – regular flossing and proper brushing (at least 2 minutes) to keep the bacteria count low and remove the sugars from your mouth.
  3. Drink plenty of water to avoid dry mouth. Chewing a sugar-free gum can sometimes help stimulate saliva flow.
  4. If you wear dentures or partials, make sure they fit well to avoid irritation which can promote infection.
  5. Be sure you have eaten a healthy meal in the morning before your dental appointments, take any required insulin and discuss your condition with your dental team in advance.
  6. Good nutrition and diet. This may include Vitamin C which has been shown to improve collagen formation and promote healing especially if gum surgery is indicated.
  7. IF you have advanced diabetes – uncontrolled with infections, you may discuss with your dentist the option of taking antibiotics preventatively before any invasive dental procedures to avoid additional complications.
  8. Patients with diabetes should schedule appointments first thing in the morning to allow time for anesthetic to wear off to avoid disrupting mealtimes.
  9. Other options such as saliva substitutes and fluoride rinses can be discussed with your dentist to see if that would be appropriate for you.

More information about diabetes and dentistry you may contact Dr. Randall LaFrom. 408-996-8595

– Dr LaFrom, DDS  (www.Dentist-Cupertino.com)

~ by cupertinodentist on May 22, 2009.

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