Diabetes & oral health 1 August 2013 The most common oral health problems affecting people with diabetes are Gum disease Dry mouth Tooth decay Thrush Mouth ulcers Taste disturbances Gum abscesses (an infection of the tooth and or gums) Why do people with diabetes have a greater risk of oral health problems? Poor blood glucose control leads to bacteria growth (bacteria loves the sweet environment) and increases the risk of infections. Dry mouth can also occur when blood glucose levels are high. Medications for diabetes, blood pressure, heart problems and anti-depressants may cause dry mouth and taste disturbance, such as a metallic taste. Smokers have a much higher risk of gum disease and may also contribute to having a dry mouth. Hypo treatments such as sweetened fizzy drinks and lollies can lead to tooth decay. Important tips to help prevent oral health problems Keep blood glucose levels within target (if you are unsure of what your target levels should be, talk to your diabetes educator, diabetes specialist or GP) Follow a healthy diet (if you need help with this, see your local Accredited Practicing Dietitian) Clean your teeth and gums twice a day with tooth paste that contains fluoride. It is also a good idea to gently brush your tongue each day to remove bacteria and keep your mouth fresh and healthy. Use dental floss or interdental cleaners every day to clean between your teeth. Avoid a dry mouth by drinking plenty of water and chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production. Biotene has a range of dry mouth products that may help Don’t smoke. If you treat a hypo, it is important to brush your teeth half an hour later to remove sugar from your teeth and prevent decay and cavities See your dentist every six months (even if you wear dentures, you are still at risk of gum disease).