If you have type 2 diabetes, you're at an increased risk of developing dental health problems due to the impact of diabetes on your white blood cells. Your white blood cells play an important role in dental health, as they can ward off harmful bacteria, which can help prevent a buildup of plaque and reduce your risk of developing a dental infection. However, white blood cell function tends to be impaired in diabetics, and this can allow harmful bacteria to build up in your mouth. Because type 2 diabetics are at an increased risk of developing certain oral health problems, they are typically advised to keep up with regular dental check-ups. This allows your dentist to detect oral health problems early, which often makes them easier to treat. Read on to learn about three oral health problems that type 2 diabetics need to watch out for.
Oral thrush is a fungal infection characterised by white patches on the tongue and soft tissues of the mouth. It can also cause your throat to feel sore and make swallowing painful. A healthy immune system usually keeps the fungus that causes oral thrush under control, but when your white blood cells are compromised, this fungal infection can develop by feeding on sugar found in your saliva.
When you have an overgrowth of bad bacteria in your mouth, plaque can form quickly. Plaque develops when bacteria combine with food particles and the sticky substance that is created binds to your teeth around the gum line. This can damage your tooth enamel and cause your gums to become inflamed, which can cause them to bleed and become painful. Gum disease can lead to gum erosion, which can expose the roots of your teeth. Significant damage to your gums can lead to tooth loss.
Some medications prescribed for type 2 diabetes can reduce the amount of saliva you produce. When you don't produce enough saliva, your mouth can become an acidic environment, and bacteria thrive in an acidic environment. The bacteria that commonly colonise your mouth produce a type of acid that can damage tooth enamel. When this protective layer is damaged, bacteria can access the soft pulp and roots of your teeth and an infection known as a dental abscess can develop. Dental abscesses are small pockets of pus that are painful and can cause localised swelling. The infection can spread to other parts of your mouth if left untreated, and the abscess can grow and damage the affected tooth.
These oral health problems tend to resolve quickly when treated, but long-term damage to your teeth and gums can occur when problems aren't addressed quickly. So, if you're overdue a dental check-up, or if you think an oral health problem is developing, contact your dentist right away and mention you have type 2 diabetes.
Contact a local dentist to learn more.Share