Diabetes and your teeth

Diabetes and Teeth Health

Diabetes can have an impact on oral health, including the health of your teeth and gums. Managing diabetes effectively is important not only for blood sugar control but also for maintaining good oral hygiene. Here are some ways in which diabetes can affect teeth health and tips for maintaining oral health:

Effects of Diabetes on Teeth and Gums:

  1. Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease): People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing gum disease due to decreased immune function and impaired blood circulation. Gum disease can lead to inflammation, bleeding gums, and even tooth loss if left untreated.

  2. Dry Mouth: Diabetes can cause dry mouth (xerostomia), a condition where there is insufficient saliva production. Saliva helps clean the mouth, neutralize acids, and prevent tooth decay. Dry mouth can lead to an increased risk of cavities and gum disease.

  3. Tooth Decay: High blood sugar levels can contribute to increased plaque formation, which can lead to tooth decay. Additionally, if diabetes is poorly controlled, it can affect the mouth's ability to fight bacteria, increasing the risk of cavities.

  4. Delayed Wound Healing: People with diabetes may experience slower wound healing, which can be problematic if you have oral surgery or experience injuries to the mouth.

Tips for Maintaining Oral Health with Diabetes:

  1. Control Blood Sugar Levels: Keeping blood sugar levels within a healthy range is crucial for overall health, including oral health. Good diabetes management can reduce the risk of gum disease and other oral complications.

  2. Regular Dental Check-ups: Visit your dentist at least twice a year for regular check-ups and cleanings. Inform your dentist about your diabetes diagnosis so they can tailor their care to your specific needs.

  3. Practice Excellent Oral Hygiene: Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristle toothbrush. Floss daily to clean between teeth and along the gumline.

  4. Manage Dry Mouth: Stay hydrated, chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candies to stimulate saliva production, and consider using artificial saliva products if recommended by your dentist.

  5. Avoid Smoking: Smoking can worsen gum disease and other oral health problems. If you smoke, quitting is beneficial for both your diabetes management and oral health.

  6. Monitor for Symptoms: Be aware of any changes in your mouth, such as bleeding gums, redness, swelling, or persistent bad breath. Report any concerns to your dentist promptly.

  7. Communicate with Healthcare Professionals: Coordinate with both your dentist and your primary care physician or endocrinologist to ensure comprehensive care that addresses both your diabetes and oral health.

Remember that oral health is an integral part of overall health, and proper oral hygiene is particularly important for individuals with diabetes. By managing your diabetes effectively and practicing good oral hygiene habits, you can reduce the risk of oral health complications and maintain a healthy smile.

The signs of gum disease include:

  • red, swollen or tender gums that may bleed
  • gums that have pulled away from teetch
  • bad breath
  • infection between teeth
  • loose teeth

Here's how you can help prevent gum disease:

  • brush and floss daily
  • visit your dentist at least every 6 months
  • try and keep your blood glucose levels within the recommended range
  • don't smoke
  • if you have dentures clean them every day and remove at night, make sure they fit correctly and have your dentist check for pressure spots each visit.

High blood glucose levels can can cause a narrowing of the blood vessels which can reduce the blood supply to gums - increasing risk of gum disease.

For more information contact the Australian Dental Association on 1800 678 383.

Click on this link to get approximate costs of visiting a dentist.

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