Tooth truths for the diabetic

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Those with irregular blood glucose levels have a higher risk of tooth problems and gum disease than people without diabetes

When it comes to preventing and managing diabetes, the last thing that probably comes to mind is your teeth and gums… but your oral health is an incredibly important element on your body’s ability to stay well.

According to Dr Rashmi Suryawanshi, Dental Surgeon, at the AKA Dental surgery clinic, Rooty Hill, NSW, people with diabetes who have irregular blood glucose levels have a higher risk of tooth problems and gum disease than people without diabetes. “This is because they have lower resistance to infection and may not heal as easily,” says Dr Suryawanshi. The AKA Clinic incidentally opened its new branch in Parramatta, Church Street, NSW.

Symptoms to watch out for, says the dentist, are bleeding from gums or gums that are loose and pull away from the teeth, a persistent discharge coming from the gums are all the signs indicating to see your dentist immediately

“Poor blood glucose control leads to bacteria growth and increases the risk of infections. Dry mouth can also occur when blood glucose levels are high. Some medications for diabetes, may cause dry mouth and taste disturbance,” she says, adding that people with diabetes who smoke or even general smokers are at higher risk of gum disease and may also contribute to having a dry mouth, and hypo-treatments such as sweetened fizzy drinks and lollies can lead to tooth decay.

There’s a financial reason too to take care of your oral health—there was a cover for diabetes patient, but not anymore. Today there is only Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) which gives eligible children and teenagers access to up to $1,000 in benefits for dental services over two calendar years.

Symptoms to watch out for, says the dentist, are bleeding from gums or gums that are loose and pull away from the teeth, a persistent discharge coming from the gums are all the signs indicating to see your dentist immediately. “Sometimes with advancement of the disease, there will be no bleeding, which in normal circumstances many people tend to ignore and not pay a visit to their dentist,” says Dr Suryawanshi.

“Handling diabetes and dental treatment means being open with your dentist about your condition. Before undergoing surgery or another treatment that is expected to cause bleeding, one needs to get their blood sugars under control”

“Taking care of your teeth and mouth is especially important if you have diabetes, because the condition results in a greater risk of oral infection and often slows the healing process because of minimum blood supply in that region. Seeing a dentist is a slightly different experience for diabetics and it is important to learn as much as you can, about handling your diabetes and dental treatment and work with your dentist to avoid any complications and maintain your oral health,” she says, adding that it is a myth that it is enough to merely brush teeth. “We are supposed to massage gums in a circular way and use a soft brush to clean the mouth and floss daily,” she adds.

“Handling diabetes and dental treatment means being open with your dentist about your condition. Before undergoing surgery or another treatment that is expected to cause bleeding, one needs to get their blood sugars under control. Also before visiting your dentist it’s better to have food before. And it’s important to visit the dentist every six months,” she says.

Oral hygiene in pregnancy

How important is it for pregnant women to maintain oral hygiene and why?

The increase of hormone levels can leave your mouth more vulnerable to dental problems from bacteria and plaque and that’s why maintaining good oral hygiene is important not only for the mother but also for the foetus. The serious stage of gum disease, periodontitis, could cause premature birth and low birth weight.

The increased amount of acid in the mouth can cause havoc on your teeth. To help counter this, you can neutralise the acid present in your mouth by rinsing with a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in water

There are also possibilities of future health problems and disabilities for unborn babies. Cerebral palsy and mental retardation are some of the likely health problems. It is common for expecting mothers to have gum infection. Nearly 50 per cent of pregnant women experience pregnancy gingivitis, which usually occurs during the first trimester due to hormonal changes in the body. Symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis are usually bleeding, swollen, red and tender gums.

The best way to avoid these complications is for women to go visit their dentist at the beginning of their pregnancy. Another way to stay healthy is by practicing good oral hygiene.

Morning Sickness and its effect?

Another concern for some expectant mothers who may suffer from regular morning sickness or gastric reflux is the erosion of tooth enamel. The increased amount of acid in the mouth can cause havoc on your teeth. To help counter this, you can neutralise the acid present in your mouth by rinsing with a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in water. Do this before brushing your teeth to minimise erosion.

What about other regular dental work during pregnancy?

Dental work while pregnant, such as cavity fillings and crowns, should be treated to reduce the chance of infection. If dental work is done during pregnancy, the second trimester is ideal. Once you reach the third trimester, it may be very difficult to lie on your back for an extended period. The safest course of action is to postpone all unnecessary dental work until after the birth.

What about X-rays used in dental work during pregnancy?

Routine X-rays, typically taken during annual exams, can usually be postponed until after the birth. X-rays are necessary to perform many dental procedures, especially emergencies. According to the Australian Dental Association (ADA) having dental X-rays during your pregnancy is considered safe with appropriate shielding.

 

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