Diabetes and oral health

If you have diabetes, you know the disease can harm your eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other important systems in the body. However, did you know diabetes can also cause problems in your mouth?

Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes managing your blood sugar level is key. The higher your blood sugar level, the higher your risk of:

  • Tooth Decay

Your mouth naturally contains many types of bacteria. When starches and sugars in foods and beverages interact with these bacteria, a sticky film known as plaque forms on your teeth. The acids in plaque attack the surfaces of your teeth (enamel and dentin). This can lead to cavities and gum disease.

The higher your blood sugar level, the greater the supply of sugars and starches — and the more acid wearing away at your teeth.

  • Gum disease

Diabetes reduces your ability to fight bacteria. If you do not remove plaque with regular brushing and flossing, it will harden under your gumline into a substance called tartar (dental calculus) If left, your gums become swollen and bleed easily. This is known as gingivitis or gum disease.

Gum disease tends to be more severe among people who have diabetes because diabetes lowers the ability to resist infection and slows healing. An infection such as advanced gum disease may also cause your blood sugar level to rise, which in turn makes your diabetes more difficult to control. Preventing and treating gum disease with regular dental cleanings can help improve blood sugar control.

  • Thrush

People with diabetes may be more likely to develop thrush, which is a fungal infection caused by the yeast Candida albicans. Signs of thrush include painful white or red patches inside your mouth. Practicing good oral hygiene can help you avoid thrush.

  • Dry mouth (xerostomia)

Some people with diabetes also experience a lack of saliva, a condition known as dry mouth. Without saliva to keep your mouth moist and bathe your teeth, you could be at risk of tooth decay, gum disease and thrush.

Helpful Tips

Good blood glucose control is key to controlling and preventing mouth problems. People with poor blood glucose control get gum disease more often and more severely than people whose diabetes is well controlled. If you have diabetes, be sure to:

  • Control your blood glucose

Monitor your blood sugar levels and follow your doctor’s instructions for keeping your blood sugar level within your target range. The better you control your blood sugars, the less likely you are to develop gum disease and other dental problems.

  • Brush twice a day and use interdental cleaning aids daily

Brush in the morning, at night and, ideally, after meals and snacks. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste that contains fluoride. Avoid vigorous or harsh scrubbing, which can irritate your gums.

  • Visit your dentist for routine check-ups

Visit your dentist at least twice a year for professional cleanings, X-rays and check-ups. Be sure to tell your dentist that you have diabetes.

  • Look for early signs of gum disease

Report any signs of gum disease— including redness, swelling and bleeding gums — to your dentist. Also mention any other signs and symptoms, such as dry mouth, loose teeth or mouth pain.

  • Quit smoking

Smoking makes gum disease worse. Your doctor or dentist can advise you on smoking cessation aids to help you quit.

We are currently in the process of reopening so if you have diabetes and are concerned about your oral health do not hesitate to contact Leigh Dental Centre on 01702 472929 and we will be able to offer help and advice  to help you monitor any changes until we can see you for an appointment.

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