Diabetes Dental Care Tips
The mouth and teeth are the first place where nutrients enter our bodies. For people
with diabetes, dental care
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.
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 blood sugar levels
provide a greater supply of sugars which can create more plaque and acid, as
well as problems such as bad breath.
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
home dental care;
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
Dental Care for Diabetics
- Manage your blood sugar levels. Good dental care starts with
good health. Maintain
your blood sugar levels 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.
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. Smoking
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
at home 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.