Under The Gum: Caring For Your Oral Health As A Diabetic Denture User

If you live with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you are more than aware of the complexity of the disorder and the many ways in which it can affect your health. With so many different health issues to keep an eye on at any one time, it's little wonder that the deleterious effect diabetes can have on your oral health is often over looked, and many diabetes sufferers wear dentures to replace teeth lost to diabetes-related dental problems, such as gingivitis and tooth decay.

However, the changes in body function and chemistry that make diabetes so dangerous to oral health can also affect denture users. Diabetes sufferers who use dentures regularly have to keep a closer eye on their dentures than most, as failure to take some simple precautions can lead to denture-related oral health problems that can quickly be exacerbated by your diabetes.

How can diabetes affect people who wear dentures?

One of the reasons diabetic people commonly suffer from oral health problems is the way the disease alters your blood pressure and chemistry; these changes diminish the amount of blood and oxygen which is supplied to your gums, causing them to recede more readily and increasing their vulnerability to infection. Less blood also causes your gums to weaken physically, making them more vulnerable to the pressure exerted on them by a set of dentures.

Consequently, if you suffer from diabetes and wear your dentures for excessively long periods, you may find that your gums become painful or start to bleed or noticeably recede. If gum recession becomes advanced, it can alter the way your dentures fit in your mouth, causing them to exert uneven pressure on different parts of the gum line and worsening the gum damage they cause. Sharp edges and corners of your dentures that become exposed by a shifting fit can also cause damage to your gums, which may heal slowly and leave you vulnerable to infection.

Another problem denture-wearing diabetes suffered commonly encounter is denture stomatitis, commonly known as denture sore mouth. This condition is caused by a particular variety of candida bacteria (the same family of bacteria that causes oral thrush), which tends to thrive in the warm, sheltered space between a toothless gum line and a fitted denture. Because diabetes can weaken the immune system in your mouth, diabetic denture wearers are especially vulnerable to stomatitis cases.

In its early stages, denture stomatitis is commonly mildly painful or totally painless, and is more likely to cause localised swelling and redness around the infected section of gum. However, the condition can worsen rapidly if left untreated, and can develop into widespread gum infection, dental abscesses or even blood poisoning. Considering the aforementioned weakening of the immune system caused by diabetes, diabetic people must be particularly careful to avoid these complications.

How can my dentist help me avoid these diabetes-related denture problems?

If you are diabetic and use dentures on a regular basis, scheduling frequent appointments and treatments with a family dentist is by far the most effective way to prevent these dental health problems.

If you are suffering from gum damage and recession caused by your dentures, your dentist can help in a number of ways; they can readjust your dentures to prevent excessive pressure on your gums, and will re-craft them to fit the new contours of your mouth correctly if recession dramatically alters the shape of your gum line. Dentists can also help alleviate the loss of gum strength caused by diabetes using medications and steroid treatments.

Frequent dental checkups are also particularly important for preventing denture-related infections, such as denture stomatitis. As well as giving you helpful advice on dental hygiene that can prevent the bacteria from thriving between your dentures and your gums, your dentist can also supply you with specialised antibacterial toothpastes and mouthwashes, and will be able to spot any early signs of candida infection before they become too severe. Simple antibiotic treatments nip most of these early stomatitis cases in the bud.