Diabetes and Oral Care

 As November 14th is World Diabetes Day, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Vanessa offer their expert advice for looking after your oral health if you have diabetes!

Gum disease is the most common dental disease affecting those living with diabetes, affecting almost 22% of those diagnosed with diabetes.

Those who have diabetes know that it can harm the eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other important systems in the body but did you know diabetes can also cause problems in your mouth? 

As we all know, everyone needs to take good care of their teeth and gums in order to prevent common oral health issues. However, a good oral care routine really is key if you have diabetes, as you are at higher risk of developing problems such as gum diseasetooth decay and other oral infections.

High blood sugar is the connection between diabetes and oral health problems. If blood sugar is poorly managed - issues with oral health are more likely to occur. This is because uncontrolled diabetes weakens white blood cells - which are the body's main protection against bacterial infections that might occur in the mouth.

Treating gum disease will help improve the regulation of blood sugar in patients with diabetes. Practicing good oral hygiene and getting professional deep cleaning done by your dentist will help lower your HbA1c (average blood sugar levels).


Oral health issues caused by diabetes

If your diabetes is not properly controlled, you may be more likely to develop oral health problems, symptoms include:

  • Sore or swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Receding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Bad breath

  (DiabetesIreland, 2020).

If people with diabetes don’t look after their oral health, they are at risk of experiencing:

Dry mouth: Less saliva in the mouth causing it to feel dry. High levels of glucose (sugar) in your blood and low levels of saliva often lead to soreness, ulcers, infections and tooth decay. 

Gum disease: Also known as periodontists. Gum disease is the sixth most common disease in the world. Gum disease occurs when there is too much sugar in your saliva - which is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. This bacteria produces acid - which attacks your tooth enamel and damages your gums, causing gum disease. 

High blood sugar levels can also damage the blood vessels in your gums - and this makes them more likely to get infected. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to pain, infection and eventually loss of teeth.

Oral Infections: people with diabetes who often take antibiotics to fight different infections are particularly vulnerable to developing fungal infections in the mouth and tongue. The fungus thrives on high levels of glucose in the saliva of people with uncontrolled diabetes. Wearing dentures regularly can also lead to fungal infections, e.g. thrush.

People with diabetes who smoke are at an even higher risk — up to 20 times more likely than non-smokers to develop thrush and periodontal disease 

Burning mouth and/or tongue - caused by the presence of thrush.

Dr. Lisa and Vanessa’s top tips for better oral health

  1. Monitor your blood sugar levels - try keep it as close to normal as possible to avoid infections.

  2. Floss daily! Flossing is just as, if not more important than brushing! 

    Our floss for decay contains the active ingredient fluoride that is clinically proven to remineralise enamel and reduce decay. Most decay starts in between the teeth and by using floss with this active ingredient that targets decay, we can actively deliver fluoride to where it is needed most.

  3. Brush your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste.

    Our toothpaste for rebuilding teeth is suitable for those that suffer from translucent, weak or chipping teeth. It contains the active ingredients fluoride and hydroxyapatite. It helps reverse early erosion and enamel loss.

  4. Use a soft bristle toothbrush, hard bristles can irritate your gums.

    Switch to our bamboo brushes for softer bristles and pain free brushing! Or if you’d like to invest in a toothbrush that will do all the work for you, we’d recommend our Sonic toothbrush on the ‘sensitive’ setting for a gentle but effective brush. 

  5. Visit your dentist and hygienist for regular check-ups and cleanings and let your dentist know that you are diabetic.

    If you are apprehensive about visiting your dentist, just know they are there to help you. Most dental problems are treatable and serious issues can be avoided if they are treated early. Book your check-up today!

  6. Maintain a healthy balanced diet.

    This includes avoiding sugary food and drinks and getting in all your veggies!

  7. Do not smoke

    If you want to improve your oral health then this habit needs to go! Although it is a tough one to kick, your dentist can provide you with lots of advice and support if you’re hoping to quit. Smoking is more damaging to your teeth than not brushing at all!

  8. If you wear dentures, take them out at night and clean them.

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