Type 2 Diabetes Guide

Diabetes Dental Care Tips

The mouth and teeth are the first place where nutrients enter our bodies. For people with is particularly important because the high blood sugar levels caused by the disease can put people at higher risk for problems with the mouth and teeth.

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When sugars in the food mix with the natural bacteria in our mouth, plaque is created. This mild acid eats away at the outer layer of the teeth and, given time, can form a small hole in the enamel. Left long enough, the interior will be exposed to rot and the entire tooth may be lost. Diabetics suffering from high provide a greater supply of sugars which can create more plaque and acid, as well as problems such as .

Gingivitis (early gum disease)

Plaque also contains bacteria that cause early gum disease. Gingivitis is the swelling of the gums and has the following warning signs:

  • Puffy gums.
  • Traces of blood when brushing or flossing.
  • A change in color of the gums.

The higher blood sugar levels in diabetics may allow gingivitis to start in a matter of days. The good news is that this condition is reversible if regular dental care is observed. Plaque can be removed with regular brushing and flossing, which in return will make the swelling subside. Regular cleanings at the dentist should also be part of your routine to remove any missed plaque which can harden into tartar. Tartar cannot be removed with ; it must be removed by a professional cleaning at a dentist.

Periodontitis (advanced gum disease)

The swelling of gums can deteriorate into inflammation of the bone and soft tissue around the teeth. When enough supporting tissue is diseased, entire teeth can become loose and fall out.

In the early stages, it is hard for sufferers to see periodontitis. The warning signs are:

  • Change in color of the gums.
  • Gums are red around the teeth.
  • Gums recede from the base of the teeth exposing more of the root.
  • Gums bleed when brushing or flossing.

Diabetics have a lower tolerance to infections and heal more slowly, making periodontitis a serious condition. The disease can rapidly spread throughout the oral cavity. It is also suspected that periodontitis may further increase blood sugar levels making it even more difficult to control diabetes.

Dental Care for Diabetics

  • Manage your blood sugar levels. Good dental care starts with good health. to within your target range and follow the medical and dietary advice of your doctor. The better you control your blood sugar levels, the less likely of developing gingivitis or worse.

  • Proper brushing. Everyone's teeth and gums are different. Talk to your dentist about how often you should brush. You may need to brush after every meal.

  • Use a soft bristled brush. Gently brushing with a soft-bristled brush and toothpaste will prevent cutting and scraping of the gums. Avoid forceful and abrasive scrubbing which can irritate and wear away gums. Electric toothbrushes may work well as long as light pressure is applied.

  • Floss your teeth daily. Toothbrushes cannot remove the food and plaque from between teeth. Dental floss can easily fit in tight grooves. If it's hard to get access to the back teeth, consider using a floss holder. A water flosser, like the popular Waterpik, is something to consider as well. Many people like how easy it is to use and how helpful they can be to help with the flossing routine.

  • Dental checkups. Gum disease may advance quickly and may not be noticed. Tell the dentist about your diabetes so he or she can monitor your condition on a regular basis.

  • Dental surgery. If dental surgery is necessary, have your dentist take into consideration your . Even a routine cavity filling will prevent you from eating for a few hours which may interfere with your blood sugar levels. Make sure you tell your dentist well in advance of your appointment so he or she can give you proper instructions. You should also consult your doctor about your plan in case your medications or insulin need adjustment.

  • Don't smoke. is a major contributor to gum disease.

Diabetics need to be vigilant about controlling their disease in order to maintain optimal health. If you have diabetes, good and proper dental hygiene will help provide you with healthy gums and teeth for the rest of your life.



The information on this website is based on our own research and personal experience, and is not a substitute for medical advice. Questions about your health and individual situation should be directed to your doctor.