People who have been diagnosed with diabetes frequently don’t realize that they may be particularly vulnerable to developing certain oral health issues. Here are four conditions that you should be on your guard against if you’re a diabetic:

Xerostomia

Xerostomia is an oral condition caused by reduced saliva flow. Diabetics may be particularly vulnerable to developing xerostomia because high blood sugar levels are a common cause of the condition. Besides the feeling of simply having a dry mouth, signs of xerostomia include:

  • Difficulty swallowing and chewing.
  • Tingling or burning sensation in the mouth.
  • Cracked, dry lips.
  • Excessive thirst.
  • Food and beverages taste metallic.
  • Dentures may be difficult to wear.

Fortunately, there are several effective ways of circumventing xerostomia, such as:

  • Taking frequent sips of water.
  • Using an alcohol-free mouthwash.
  • Applying lip balm on a regular basis.

If symptoms persist, you should make an appointment with your dental care professional so that you can receive appropriate treatment.

Gingivitis

Diabetes decreases the body’s ability to fight off bacteria, making you more vulnerable to the development of conditions such as gingivitis. You might have gingivitis is your gums are sore, particularly if they bleed. Regular removal of plaque by flossing and brushing will help reduce your chances of developing gingivitis. However, if you suspect that you may have come down with this condition, consult with a dentist as soon as possible in order to prevent it from developing into periodontitis.

Periodontitis

Left untreated, gingivitis may turn into an infection known as periodontitis, which is an advanced and serious gum disease that can cause the bone and soft tissues that provide support for the teeth to corrode. In its later state, periodontitis may become so severe that the teeth actually separate from the gums and fall out as a result. Periodontitis may also cause spikes in blood sugar levels, making it particularly important for diabetics to take as many preventative measures as possible to circumvent this condition. Unfortunately, periodontitis generally takes longer to heal in diabetics than in others, because diabetes lowers the body’s ability to successfully fight off infections.

Thrush

Oral thrush, otherwise known as Candida albicans, is another condition that those with diabetes are particularly prone to developing. Thrush is basically a fungal infection that occurs when yeast that is found naturally in the mouths of most people grows out of control. Symptoms of thrush include:

  • Whitish-colored lesions on the tongue, interior of the mouth, gums, or tonsils. 
  • Pain where the lesions are located.
  • Dry, cracked corners of the mouth.

The lesions may also bleed if they are disturbed, and you may have difficulty swallowing if the lesions have reached your esophagus. Complications from thrush can involve the infection entering the bloodstream and spreading to other organs such as the kidneys, lungs, eyes, brain, heart, and liver. Because potential complications can be so severe, you should contact your dental care professional immediately if you suspect that you may have developed a case of oral thrush. You should also do the following if you discover any lesions in your mouth:

  • Use a soft toothbrush to avoid causing unnecessary irritation.
  • Avoid using mouthwash while lesions are present.
  • Strive to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

You should also replace your toothbrush every four or five days until the thrush completely clears up. After thrush is cleared up, replacing your toothbrush every month or two will help minimize chances of the condition reoccurring.

Remember, prevention is a much more preferable strategy when it comes to maintaining optimal oral heath, especially if you have a condition such as diabetes that makes you particularly vulnerable to experiencing serious adverse effects. For more information, contact a the dentist at a local clinic, like Sunridge Mall Family Dental Clinic.