The right daily at-home oral care routine goes a long way toward improving your oral health and overall health. Here, MDA dentists share the daily at-home care routine they recommend for anyone living with diabetes.
Diabetes & Your Oral Health
The health of your body and the health of your mouth are linked. When one is impacted by illness, the other is too. Diabetes not only affects your body. It also affects your mouth, teeth, and gums, increasing your risk for cavities, gum disease, infection, and total tooth loss.
Managing blood sugar becomes more difficult as oral illness takes hold. This feeds a vicious cycle of diabetes-oral health-related complications. For a more in-depth overview of diabetes and specific oral diseases, see our article: Connecting Diabetes and Oral Health: What You Need to Know.
Take Control of Your Oral Health & Your Diabetes
Thankfully, there are simple ways to start taking control of your oral health, starting with good routine dental care habits and regular checkups with your MDA dentist. Most diabetes-related oral health conditions can be treated or managed with the right combination of dental care and blood sugar regulation. Even better, improved oral health helps with blood sugar management.
Start with a Visit to Your MDA Dentist
From your very first visit, your MDA dentist can help put you on the path toward improved oral health, even if you haven’t been to the dentist in a long time.
After a thorough exam, your MDA dentist and their team will review your health information, including your latest A1C number. If you don’t know your most recent A1C level, bring a copy of any A1C test results you may have to share with the dental care team. This will help them understand the current state of your diabetes and predict how much your oral health may be affected.
Your MDA dentist may want to put you on a treatment plan to address any underlying issues or complications. Then, together, they’ll work with you to develop a daily at-home oral care routine for your unique oral health needs.
Dentures & Diabetes
Dental visits are also important for people who wear dentures, as those without teeth remain at risk of developing diabetes-related illness of the gums, cheeks, and tongue. As diabetes slows down the healing process, rubs and sores caused by ill-fitting dentures can quickly become infected, putting you at risk for further complications.
Your Daily Oral Care Routine
Developing good daily oral care habits improves your dental health and can help with diabetes management. MDA dentists encourage anyone living with diabetes or caring for someone with diabetes to do the following every day. If you’re not already doing the last one, add it to your at-home routine today.
- Brush teeth twice each day. MDA dentists recommend that you brush for two minutes (minimum) twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss and rinse for healthy gums. Care for gums by flossing or using an interdental cleaner daily. Follow with any dentist-recommended or prescribed rinses.
- Clean dentures daily. If you wear dentures, thoroughly clean them every day. Ensure that the fit is comfortable—no sores, redness, or rubbing on your gums.
- Inspect your mouth daily. First, know what’s normal for your mouth. Then, check your teeth, tongue, cheeks, and gums for signs of redness and inflammation, infection, patches of discoloration, and areas of pain.
Keep in mind that your MDA dentist will help you develop a daily oral care routine that’s specific to you—right down to the right products and management techniques.
Watch for Signs of Oral Illness
Daily diabetes management means keeping an eye out for other oral health conditions and scheduling an appointment with an MDA dentist as soon as you notice any of these symptoms:
- Chronic dry mouth and dry teeth, tongue, and gums.
- Bleeding gums when you brush your teeth.
Signs of inflamed gums such as redness, swelling, and signs of infection.
- New areas of receding gums where gum tissue pulls back and exposes new areas of your teeth.
- Patches of discoloration in the mouth can signal fungal infections such as oral thrush.
- Hypersensitivity in general or in specific teeth or gum areas.
- Loose or shifting teeth caused by weakening gum tissue and jawbone loss due to diabetes-related gum disease.
While these conditions can occur due to other factors, in those with diabetes, they’re almost always linked to that underlying illness.
At the First Sign of Symptoms, Contact Your MDA Dentist
If you notice any warning signs of oral illness above, call your MDA dentist and schedule an appointment. When you talk to the office staff, inform them of your diabetes diagnosis and let them know the reason for your concern. Your MDA dentist may want to see you as soon as possible.
With Diabetes, Don’t Delay Dental Treatment
Diabetes affects your immune system, slowing your body’s natural healing process and making it more likely for complications to arise along the way. That’s why it’s so important to address oral problems early–before they have a chance to progress. Prolonged recovery from dental complications can negatively impact your overall health, making managing diabetes and regulating blood sugar even more difficult.
Diabetes & Tobacco Products
Whether through smoking, vaping, or chewing, tobacco use affects your oral and overall health. Those with diabetes are even more susceptible to the many dental and oral illnesses caused by tobacco use. If you need help quitting tobacco, talk to your MDA dentist–they’re here to help!
Diabetes & Diet
The foods you eat and when you eat impact your blood sugar levels. Avoid sweets, sugary drinks, processed foods, and large meals. The right combination of leafy vegetables (and some fruits), lean meats, whole grains, and healthy fats will keep you feeling full. Knowing what foods affect you most can help you make the best choices throughout the day.
For the health of your mouth and your body, it’s important to eat foods that are naturally rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium, and phosphorus. If you have questions about nutrition or dietary changes, it’s always okay to ask your MDA dentist or primary care physician.
Find an MDA dentist near you. Don’t have a dentist? Use our Find a Dentist tool to find an MDA dentist in your area. Then, talk to your dentist about your diabetes. Start taking control of your oral and overall health.