Diabetes & You
(Image courtesy of NZDA)
If you have diabetes, you need to take extra care of your mouth. People with poor glycaemic (blood sugar) control are more likely to develop problems in the mouth. Similarly, people with poor oral health can experience difficulties in controlling their blood glucose/sugar levels.
To maintain good diabetes control and avoid dental problems, take good care of your mouth Dental problems linked with diabetes include:
Fungal infections such as thrush, especially for denture wearers
Dry mouth and taste impairment
The link between gum disease and diabetes People with diabetes, especially those who have unstable blood sugar levels are more likely to develop gum disease. Gum disease is an infection of the gums and bone that hold your teeth in place. Similar to other infections in your body, gum infection can make your blood glucose levels hard to manage.
Gums can be red, swollen and tender caused by a build up of plaque at the gum line where the tooth and the gum meet. Over time, plaque bacteria destroy the gums, causes recession, making them look longer and teeth start to feel wobbly/loose. The damage caused by advanced gum disease (Periodontitis) is not reversible but the problem can be prevented from getting worse.
Gum disease can start at any age- children and teenagers who have diabetes are at greater risk than those who don't have diabetes. Warning signs of gum disease:
Red and swollen gums that bleed often after brushing or flossing
Pus between teeth and gums.
Gums that have receded or pulled away from the teeth, exposing the roots
Teeth that have moved, drifted, causing spaces or look longer than they used to.
Having high blood glucose levels or taking antibiotics makes you more likely to have fungal infections such as thrust. This is seen as patches of white film or small rest dots that can be painful in the roof of the mouth, or corner of the lips.
High blood glucose can cause dry mouth, or xerostomia, where the mouth becomes very dry due to reduced saliva flow. It is also a side effect of some medications such as antihistamines, painkillers, antihypertensives, diuretics, antidepressants and others. People suffering from dry mouth are more likely to suffer from tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath.
Steps to keep your mouth and body healthy:
Manage your blood glucose levels
Smoking makes oral problems worse. If you do smoke, ask about help with quitting
Make healthy food choices
Brush your teeth twice a day to prevent build up of plaque on your teeth
Clean between the teeth at least once a day with floss or interdental brushes
Clean dentures twice a day and remove them overnight to give the gum tissues a rest
Check your mouth regularly for any problems- bleeding gums, dryness, soreness, white patches, or a bad taste in the mouth
Visit Bays Dental every 6 months so we can check the health of your gums and teeth and treat any problems early before they become worse.
Checklist for visiting your dentist:
Tell us that you have diabetes, what medicines you take, and any problems you have with managing your blood glucose levels.
Eat before you see your dentist. The best time for dental work is when your blood glucose level is in normal range.If you take insulin, a morning visit after a normal breakfast is best.
Take your usual medicines before your visit, unless your dentist or doctor asks you to change your dose for dental surgery.
Stick to your normal meals after dental work. If you can't chew well, plan how to get the food you need. You may need to eat soft/mushy or liquid foods
If your diabetes is unstable, talk to your dentist and doctor about best options for dental treatment
We're here to help, and give you advice- please don't hesitate to contact us and see one of our dentists/hygienists to help keep your mouth healthy and your diabetes stable.