You probably have heard about diabetes before. Maybe you or any member of your family are one of the 34.2 million Americans that suffer from this chronic disease. If so, you’d know how diabetes can alter lifestyles and interfere with common medical treatments and procedures.
When it comes to dental treatment, the good news is that nearly all diabetic patients can undergo most dental procedures. However, there are some extra precautions they need to take to ensure their health is not at risk – especially when undergoing treatments that involve blood loss like oral surgeries and teeth extractions.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic condition that alters a person’s blood sugar level. This alteration is a consequence of a problem with insulin, the enzyme that regulates sugar levels. In diabetic patients, this enzyme is not produced in the right quantity, or the body simply develops a tolerance to its action. As a consequence, uncontrolled diabetic patients have too much sugar in the bloodstream, which can bring multiple health complications.
It is of utmost importance for diabetic patients to pay close attention to their diet and be diligent with insulin shots or medications. When this systemic condition is not properly controlled, it can have significant repercussions on the patient’s overall health, and oral health is no exception.
Diabetes and Oral Health
Of all the consequences that diabetes has on the human body, three of them directly affect oral health:
- Weakens defense cells: the white blood cells are in charge of defending our body from diverse infections. When this defense system is not functioning properly, our body is more vulnerable to the attack of bacteria and viruses. This makes diabetic patients more susceptible to developing conditions like gums disease and periodontitis.
- Affects blood circulation: diabetes also affects blood circulation in small blood vessels, which can complicate the normal healing process of wounds in soft tissues.
- Causes dry mouth: this condition also decreases saliva flow. Saliva has many important functions in the oral cavity, and a dry mouth can lead to soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay.
How Does Diabetes Affect the Surgery Outcome?
Oral surgery leaves a wound that the body usually heals a few days after surgery. As mentioned before, blood circulation is affected by high sugar blood levels, so this healing process is slowed down in diabetic patients. As a result, the wound is open for a longer period of time, and if we combine this open wound with the weakened defense system, the result is a patient at a higher risk of developing infections that can complicate both oral and overall health.
Steps to Follow Before a Dental Surgery
Patients with controlled sugar levels can undergo a dental extraction with no inconvenience. However, our oral surgeon needs to be certain you are within the normal parameters, which are 180 mg/dl before a meal and 234 mg/dl 2 hours after a meal. We usually advise our patients to make sure they don’t skip their medications two weeks before surgery, and we can ask them to have a quick blood sugar test before the procedure.
For some extensive surgical procedures, we might also ask diabetic patients to take antibiotics before surgery day.
Oral Surgery in Austin, TX
Our oral surgeons are trained to treat patients with any type of medical condition. If you have diabetes and need oral surgery, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists!