Diabetes and Your Oral Health

Patients with diabetes have special risks related to their oral health care. Poor oral health has sometimes made diabetes more difficult to control. This is because infections in the mouth may cause blood sugar to rise. It is important to know the potential complications so you can have a healthy smile.

Preventing Problems

Good oral hygiene and regular dental visits are important to preventing problems, especially for patients with diabetes. Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day helps remove plaque. Taking care of your blood sugar levels and eating healthy food can help keep your teeth in good shape.

Keep Your Dentist Up-to-Date

It is important to talk to your dentist about diabetes each time you go for a visit. In order to make the best decisions for your health, your dentist needs to know:

  • if you have been diagnosed with diabetes;
  • if the disease is under control;
  • if there has been any other change in your medical history;
  • the names of all prescription and over-the-counter drugs you are taking.

Common Oral Health Problems Associated with Diabetes

Patients with diabetes are more at risk for oral health problems. It is important to talk to your dentist about any changes with your mouth that you notice so that problems can be treated. Patients with Type 2 diabetes may be up to three times more likely to develop gum disease.

  • Tooth decay
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Salivary gland dysfunction
  • Fungal infections
  • Lichen planus and lichenoid reactions (inflammatory skin disease)
  • Infection and delayed healing
  • Taste impairment

Dealing with
Dry Mouth

A common complaint among diabetic patients is dry mouth. Without an adequate flow of saliva, soft tissues in the mouth can become inflamed and painful. The risk of tooth decay and periodontal disease is also higher as food particles are not washed away as well, causing elevated levels of bacteria. Saliva substitutes, sugarless gum or mints, taking frequent sips of water, using ice chips, and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake may help. Your dentist may also prescribe fluoride mouth rinses, and topical fluoride to help prevent rampant tooth decay.

Good Communication
and Monitoring
is Key

Keeping your dentist informed about your diabetes will help your dentist provide you with the best care. Be sure to contact your dentist right away if you are having problems such as trouble chewing, bleeding or sore gums, red or swollen gums, or sore or loose teeth.

By practicing good oral hygiene habits and controlling your blood glucose levels, you can enjoy a healthy body and a healthy mouth.