Therefore, the type of diabetes an individual has will
dictate how it can be controlled. Those people who do not produce enough
insulin can receive insulin injections. Individuals whose cells donít react
with the insulin can try to control their diet and the types of food they
eat (reduce the amount of sugar and fat).
- Type II
Diabetes. The cells in the body donít interact
with the insulin.
A disease such as diabetes
effects the entire body including the mouth. Here is some information in a
question and answer format that may shed some light on how diabetes effects
the teeth, gums, and breath.
Q: Are Diabetics More
At Risk For Getting Cavities Than Non-Diabetics?
A: Not necessarily. If the condition is monitored and
controlled, the diabetic is at no greater risk for getting cavities than a
If the condition is not
controlled, and the diet consists of foods high in sugar and starch,
the diabeticís chance of getting cavities will increase. It is understood
that diabetics sometimes eat smaller meals, requiring more meals per
day. This means frequent doses of sugar (in various forms) throughout
the day. A diabetic needs to ensure he/she brushes their teeth after
every meal and flosses at least daily.
Some diabetics have noted their
mouths feel dry. If this is the case, then the risk of cavities is
definitely increased. Normally, saliva washes over the teeth collecting some
(not all) sugar and is then swallowed. Without enough saliva in the mouth,
sugar is allowed to remain on the teeth. This allows the sugar an
opportunity to cause decay.
Q: What Can Gum Disease Mean For
Diabetics are known to have a decreased dental healing response. Gingivitis
is an infection within the gums caused by bacteria found in plaque. A
diabeticís body doesnít respond as quickly to fight this type of infection
as a non-diabetic. If the infection persists it can become worse leading to
the infection of underlying bone that anchors the teeth in place. It has
been shown that diabetics who keep their condition under control have a
better chance of combating infections that those who are poorly
In addition to controlling the
condition of diabetes, the importance of maintaining good oral health is
essential. Brushing and flossing help to reduce plaque and bacteria that
cause infection and thereby decreasing the risk of gum disease.
Q: Will A Diabetic Lose Their
Teeth Sooner Than A Non-Diabetic?
Many factors contribute to the loss of teeth in someone who has diabetes. A
poor healing response combined with gum disease and the destruction of bone
anchoring the teeth in place may result in teeth that become loose and
eventually fall out. Although diabetics have no control over their response
to infection, they can practice good oral hygiene habits (brushing and
flossing). Removing plaque will reduce or eliminate infection. Ensuring the
diabetes is controlled (taking insulin, altering diet) is also a way of
decreasing the risk of tooth loss.
It should be noted that a
diabetic may have excellent oral hygiene and still suffer from gum disease
and bone loss. If this is the case, additional measures can be taken. A
dental hygienist can recommend a special prescription mouthwash which kills
various bacteria in the mouth that contribute to gum disease. Your dentist
can write the prescription. Diabetics should be encouraged to ask their
hygienist any questions they have regarding their oral health
Q: Many Diabetics Have
Unpleasant "Fruity-Sweet" Smelling Breath. Is There Anything They Can Do
Unfortunately, no. The "fruity-sweet" breath is caused by the disease itself
as a result of the bodyís natural defense against decreased glucose use.
There are some methods of masking the odor, but they are only temporary and
do NOT eliminate the problem. Some things that may help
While there are many
other concerns that people with diabetes may have, these are the basics
pertaining to the oral health. If you have any questions that have not
been answered, or would like more detail, please donít hesitate to contact
- sugarless chewing
- using a mint flavored
- brushing frequently