Last Updated on May 29, 2023 by Dr Gustavo Assatourians DDS
Approximately one-third of the population in the United States has or is at risk for diabetes. This is one of the most serious public health problems worldwide and is also one with the greatest consequences for overall health. Good oral health is important for all people; however, high blood sugar levels can prevent the mouth from being healthy and create an unhealthy relationship between dental extractions and diabetes. Practicing good hygiene helps maintain self-esteem, in addition to avoiding pain and bleeding in the gums caused by the accumulation of bacterial plaque.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease characterized by high blood glucose levels. Blood glucose is also known as blood sugar, the main source of energy in the body that comes from food. The pancreas is the organ in charge of producing the hormone that helps glucose enter cells to produce energy; this hormone is called insulin. When a sufficient amount of insulin is not produced, the sugar stays in the blood, causing health problems.
Studies have established that people who suffer from this health condition easily present infections since their immune systems do not respond properly, even more so when diabetes is not controlled, favoring bacterial growth in any part of the body.
How does diabetes affect oral health?
High sugar levels are not only found in the blood, but they can also be deposited in the saliva. The bacteria found in the mouth and in dental plaque or tartar feed on the sugar present in saliva, and this bacteria can cause dental caries and gum diseases. If caries are not treated promptly, they can cause tooth loss.
In the case of gum diseases, gingivitis, or periodontitis, it can be more serious and take longer to heal. In addition to these complications, diabetes can cause a sensation of dry mouth, and since less saliva is produced, it is more prone to mouth infections that take longer to heal.
Dental Extractions and Diabetes
According to research, it is clear that diabetes is a factor that impacts dental health; however, when it is controlled and the patient adheres to the pharmacological treatment defined by the doctor, as well as dietary care, suffering from this disease should not represent a health risk.
It is important to have some considerations:
- The first thing is to inform the dentist about the condition so he can make sure that glucose levels are normal before starting the procedure so there is no risk. This is simply because diabetic patients take longer to recover than non-diabetics – usually a period of two weeks.
- Tell your dentist about the medications you take (prescription and non-formula, just like any natural product or supplement). If you are currently on insulin treatment, tell them how it is administered and what dose is indicated, as well as how long ago the last dose was used.
- In some cases, and depending upon the glucose level, the dentist can request that the patient’s personal physician participate in monitoring dental treatment to avoid severe complications during the healing period.
- In case your glucose levels are normal, the treatment can be carried out without major complications, as with any other non-diabetic patient.
- Since diabetic patients are more prone to developing infections, antibiotic prophylaxis is recommended, that is, starting the antibiotic before the procedure. In these cases, the dentist decides whether to perform it or not.
- If the procedure is minor, the application of anesthetic without vasoconstrictor is recommended, but if the procedure is surgical, the use of anesthetic with vasoconstrictor at a low concentration is recommended, only if the patient is a controlled diabetic. If it is not, it is best not to perform the procedure.
After the dental procedure or extraction, the dentist will likely prescribe antibiotics in slightly higher doses than normal and for a longer time since the postoperative management of patients diagnosed with diabetes must be more powerful. It is a little more difficult for them to fight the bacteria at normal doses, and due to a longer healing time, there may be a risk of infection.
Normally the antibiotics are administered on the day of surgery and must be maintained between 7-14 days after treatment or according to the indication of the dentist. It may be prolonged a little longer.
Recommendations to ensure success after tooth removal
It is important to follow the following dental extraction and diabetes guidelines:
- Avoid smoking, consuming alcoholic beverages, or coming in contact with irritating substances, as well as the use of mouthwashes with high alcohol content for the next 72 hours after the extraction.
- Avoid the accumulation of plaque between the teeth by floss.
- Check the blood sugar level periodically. Good blood sugar control will also help the body fight any other bacterial or fungal infections in the mouth and help relieve the typical dry mouth caused by diabetes.
- Use diabetes-related medications as directed, switching to a healthier diet, and getting more exercise can help.
- Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft toothbrush.
- If you wear dentures, clean them every day.
- Visit your dentist for regular checkups and to verify the condition of the extraction and its healing process.
A person with diabetes can lead a completely normal life and benefit from the diversity of dental treatments currently offered. You just have to follow basic guidelines to avoid complications and thus ensure success.
If you have any questions about this or other topics, you can contact us at Channel Islands Family Dental as well as our page on Facebook. We look forward to your visit and we will make a timely diagnosis. Our dentists in Oxnard, Santa Paula, Ventura, Newbury Park, and Port Hueneme will be able to guide you toward the best treatment to take care of your health and give you back your best smile.
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