Diabetes & oral health

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).
Publication/Source:

Diabetes Australia - Victoria member area