Diabetes affects the whole body, including the mouth. Unstable blood sugar levels result in symptoms that can manifest orally in a number of ways. Below are five oral symptoms of diabetes and tips on managing these symptoms so they don’t worsen.
- Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is a common symptom of diabetes. Dry mouth occurs when blood sugar levels are high and can lead to soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay. It is often accompanied by extreme thirst or polydipsia, decreased saliva, and a burning sensation in the mouth or tongue.
- Tooth Decay
Diabetes can cause an increase in blood sugar levels, which increases the amount of sugar and starches in the mouth. Bacteria, which thrive on sugar and starch, create plaque that damages tooth enamel. Tooth decay, also called cavities, can lead to gum disease.
Gingivitis or gum inflammation is the first stage of gum disease. It is the result of tooth decay caused by plaque and tartar buildup affecting the gums. The buildup causes gums to bleed, become inflamed, and feel sore. Patients with diabetes have a reduced ability to fight the bacteria in the mouth.
Untreated gingivitis becomes periodontitis, a bacterial gum infection that destroys the soft tissue and bone in the mouth. Periodontitis can lead to tooth loss. People with diabetes are at a higher risk of periodontitis due to a reduced ability to resist and heal from infections.
Thrush is a fungal infection caused by yeast. It results in white or red patches inside of the mouth that may be painful. Thrush is particularly common among people with diabetes who frequently take antibiotics and have unstable blood glucose levels. It is often accompanied by a burning feeling in the mouth and tongue.
Tips To Manage Oral Diabetic Symptoms
The following tips can be useful in preventing and managing oral health problems:
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
This is the most important tip. Regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash prevents many oral symptoms, including tooth decay and gingivitis. Good oral hygiene removes bacterial, plaque, and leftover food that is the cause of many oral health problems.
Attend Routine Dental Appointments
Regular dental cleanings remove plaque, inspect the mouth for problems like cuts and abrasions, and clean areas of the mouth that are missed during the daily oral hygiene routine. Routine visits to care for teeth can also help one avoid emergency dental visits. Patients should also advise their dentists that they are diabetic.
Don’t Smoke or Quit Smoking
Smoking increases the risk of oral health problems, including gum disease and dry mouth. It also makes it difficult to fight off infections and slows healing. Patients should work with their health care providers to develop a plan to stop smoking.
Control Blood Sugar Levels
Studies have shown that controlling blood sugar levels lowers the risk of oral health symptoms. Stable and optimal blood glucose levels reduce excess sugars and bacteria in the mouth, preventing tooth decay, dry mouth, and other oral symptoms. Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), which provide accurate and regular readings, are useful in helping patients monitor their blood sugar levels.
Considering continuous glucose monitoring? Learn more about how the Eversense Transmitter can be used to monitor patient blood sugar levels.