Diabetes & oral health
The most common oral health problems affecting people with diabetes are
- Gum disease
- Dry mouth
- Tooth decay
- 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).
Diabetes Australia - Victoria member area