14Sep

Reduced Salivary Flow
Patients with diabetes may also experience dry mouth as a result of reduced saliva. Neuropathy and certain medications may be the cause of reduced salivary flow. Finney says that saliva is important to wash residue off teeth and gums and prevent tooth and gum disease. Ask your dentist about products that moisten the mouth or increase saliva.
Drinking lots of fluids may help alleviate the problem and there are products available that can help keep the mouth moist.

It's All Connected
The development of periodontal disease may reflect the presence of other problems related to blood glucose control such as retinopathy.

"Retinopathy and dental problems are closely related. If you look at a population that is having eye problems, that same population is likely to have dental problems. If a person is diagnosed with retinopathy, they should make sure that their mouth is being examined and the gums are healthy. Conversely, if there is serious gum disease there may be other diabetic complications taking place in the body," says Finney.

Problems that begin elsewhere in the body should also provide clues for health care professionals. The presence of microalbuminuria and neuropathy are signals to check the mouth for potential complications.

09Sep

Blood glucose control and good oral hygiene seems to be the key to avoiding most dental complications. Everyone is at risk of developing periodontal disease, but all people with diabetes, regardless of age or type of diabetes, are more susceptible. There are several reasons for this.
For one, people with diabetes have more sugar in the mouth which provides a more hospitable environment for hostile bacteria. This makes all forms of periodontal disease, as well as tooth decay more likely.

High and fluctuating blood glucoses are also a big factor in the increased risk of periodontal disease. Poor blood glucose control means higher degrees of periodontitis and more vulnerability to complications.

It also makes healing more difficult once an infection sets in. Just like diabetics with poor blood glucose control have a hard time healing wounds and infections on their feet, their bodies have a hard time fighting infections and healing wounds in the mouth.

At the same time, on-going infections may make blood glucose control more difficult. Inflammation and infection affect blood glucose control no matter where they occur. But the mouth is often overlooked as most doctors do not look in the mouth.  Once an infection takes root a vicious cycle ensues making metabolic and infection control a struggle.

This cycle can have drastic consequences. If oral infections get out of control they can lead to blood glucose control problems serious enough to land a person with diabetes in the hospital, to say nothing of the damage to the teeth and gums.

Gum infections can also impact insulin needs. Authors of a study cited in September's 1997's Practical Diabetology concluded that when an infection is rampant, patients with diabetes often have increased insulin requirements. If periodontal disease is treated and gingival inflammation is eliminated, these insulin needs often decrease.

Collagen, which is a building block of the tissue that attaches teeth to bones and the surrounding soft tissue, is also affected by diabetes. Diabetes' effect on collagen metabolism, according to Finney, "may make an infection potentially more destructive."