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 non-diabetic.
If the condition is not controlled, and the diet consists of foods high in sugar and starch, the diabetic’s 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 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 A Diabetic?
A: Diabetics are known to have a decreased dental healing response. Gingivitis is an infection within the gums caused by bacteria found in plaque. A diabetic’s body doesn’t 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 controlled.
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?
A: 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 status.
Q: Many Diabetics Have Unpleasant "Fruity-Sweet" Smelling Breath. Is There Anything They Can Do About It?
A: Unfortunately, no. The "fruity-sweet" breath is caused by the disease itself as a result of the body’s 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 are:
Calcium is a mineral that helps make teeth strong and healthy. Even before baby teeth and adult teeth come in, they need calcium. And after teeth come in, they continue to take in calcium so they can develop fully.
Calcium makes gums healthy. Getting enough calcium as a young adult may help prevent gum disease later in life.
Calcium makes jawbones strong and healthy too.
Jawbones need to be strong — they hold the teeth in place!
Calcium makes bones strong, too.
Fluoride makes teeth more resistant to decay
Fluoride repairs tiny areas of decay before they become big cavities
Fluoride makes germs in the mouth less able to cause decay
Fluoride helps the smooth surfaces of the teeth the most. It is less effective on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. Regular brushing -- with fluoride toothpaste -- also helps prevent tooth decay.
Sealants and fluoride together can prevent almost all tooth decay.
A harmful oral habit is the use of tobacco. Here are some oral problems that may occur with the use of tobacco.
Oral Side Effects of Tobacco
The Dangers of Dip and Chew
Here's a brief summary of the harm dipping does.