Discover how diabetes affects oral health

People who have diabetes gradually develop long-term health complications, over time, especially if their blood sugar isn’t controlled. The disease can cause damage to the heart, kidneys, eyes and even one’s mouth. This medical condition increases one’s risk of developing several oral health problems, like cavities and gum disease, oral infections and reduced blood supply to areas in the mouth. If you fail to manage diabetes, you will likely develop some of these complications. Discover more as Bloom and Momentum Health4Me, discuss how diabetes affects oral health and what you can do to prevent the problems.

The reason why diabetes causes oral health problems

Diabetes affects the body’s ability to utilise blood sugar. It also decreases one’s ability to effectively deal with bacteria that cause gum infections. This is because those with diabetes have a lowered resistance to infection and don’t heal quickly. The higher one’s blood sugar levels, the more likely they are to develop problems, like tooth decay and cavities, gum disease, oral thrush and dry mouth.

Common symptoms of poor oral health

Some of the warning signs to look out for include:

  • Teeth feeling loose
  • Bad breath that won’t go away despite brushing your teeth
  • Bleeding gums, especially after brushing or flossing
  • Receding gums that give one the appearance of having longer teeth
  • Swollen gums

Oral health complications of diabetes

These problems illustrate how diabetes affects oral health. Some of the diabetic-related health problems include:

  1. Gum disease. This is a bacterial infection that can result in tooth loss due to tissue damage. Diabetes causes blood vessels to thicken. This reduces the rate of nutrient flow to body tissues, like the mouth. Early gum disease is called gingivitis. The bacteria in plaque build-up causes gums to become inflamed and sore. Your teeth may bleed after brushing if you have gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis leads to the second stage of gum disease, which is called periodontitis. This is more serious as the inner layer of the gum and bone pulls away from one’s teeth, resulting in pockets. Debris collects in these pockets and becomes infected. Tooth loss can be expected.
  1. Dry mouth. Diabetes can reduce the level of saliva in one’s mouth Decreased saliva leads to this particular complication, known as xerostomia. Saliva is responsible for producing enzymes that combat oral bacteria so without it, you become susceptible to a host of other problems, like ulcers, tooth decay and gum disease.
  1. Oral fungal infections, known as thrush, cause an unpleasant burning sensation in one’s mouth. Thrush develops if the glucose levels in one’s saliva is too high.
  1. Tooth decay and cavities. The higher one’s blood sugar levels, the greater the levels of sugar and starches in your mouth. This interacts with bacteria causing plaque to form on one’s teeth. Gradually, the enamel and dentin are eroded away, which causes cavities and tooth decay.

Preventing diabetic-related oral health problems

Everyone is encouraged to practice good oral hygiene. Still, those with diabetes are advised to be particularly vigilant when it comes to their oral and dental care. This is due to the fact that those with diabetes are at a greater risk of developing oral health problems if their blood glucose levels are too high. Some of the proven ways to prevent or reduce the risk of diabetic-related oral health problems include:

  • Manage your blood sugar levels. Inform your dentist if you have diabetes so he or she can help you with an appropriate treatment plan. Monitor your blood sugar so that it’s within the recommended target range.
  • Have your teeth and gums checked and cleaned by your dentist at least twice per year.
  • Prevent plaque build-up by brushing your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing every day. Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to prevent bleeding gums.
  • If you wear dentures, you need to clean these regularly in order to prevent bacteria build-up. It’s also recommended that you remove your dentures when you’re sleeping.
  • Look out for and be aware of the early signs of gum disease. Gingivitis can be reversed with a good treatment plan while periodontitis is irreversible.

Health insurance that covers diabetes and chronic medication

Momentum Health4Me Gold, Silver and Bronze members receive unlimited cover for chronic medication, like insulin, in accordance with chronic benefits of Momentum’s CareCross Network of prescribed chronic medication formulary. The Health4Me benefit covers medication for 26 chronic conditions including Diabetes Insipidus, Diabetes Mellitus Type 1 and Diabetes Mellitus Type 2.

Make your health a priority with health insurance cover

Diabetes is a common chronic disease that causes serious health complications, including problems with oral health. If you or a loved one have diabetes, it’s important that you manage the condition in order to keep your blood glucose at the correct levels. This means taking chronic medication and making certain lifestyle changes. Contact one of Bloom’s trained consultants to discuss your health insurance options and make sure you and your family are covered for chronic benefits.

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You understand and acknowledge that all users of the Bloom website are responsible for their own medical care, treatment, and oversight. All content provided on the website, is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Neither is it intended to be a substitute for an independent professional medical opinion, judgement, diagnosis or treatment.

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Momentum Health4Me is not a medical scheme product, and is not a substitute for medical scheme membership. The information provided on this website does not constitute advice in terms of the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act. Momentum is a division of Momentum Metropolitan Life Limited, an authorised financial services provider (FSP 6406) and a wholly owned subsidiary of Momentum Metropolitan Holdings Limited.

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