People with diabetes are more at risk of oral disease than people without diabetes. If you have diabetes, it's important to maintain good oral care to reduce your risk of mouth problems such as gingivitis. Common oral health problems in people with diabetes include cavities, gum disease, fungal infections, and taste impairment.
How does diabetes affect oral health?
Diabetes lowers the body's resistance to infection and can slow wound healing. People with diabetes may also produce less saliva, which can cause dry mouth and a burning sensation in the mouth. Since saliva helps protect the teeth from cavities, having less saliva can lead to cavities.
People with diabetes:
- are more at risk of oral diseases (e.g., oral infection, gum disease) than people who do not have diabetes. Unfortunately, having gum disease can then make it harder to manage blood sugar.
- tend to experience more severe gum disease and at an earlier age compared to people without diabetes
- who do not have good blood sugar control tend to have more oral health problems, experience severe toothaches (due to poor circulation to the teeth), and have thickening of the gum blood vessels (which can lead to gum infection and bone infection)
What can I do to maintain good oral health?
People with diabetes who maintain good oral health and have good blood sugar control generally have a reduced risk of gum disease. Take these steps to help maintain good oral health:
- Keep your blood sugar levels under control. Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor and monitor your blood sugar levels regularly. Other ways to keep your blood sugar levels under control include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight. Maintaining good blood sugar levels may help to reduce your risk of oral health problems.
- Help prevent plaque formation and acid attacking your teeth: Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. If you can, also brush after each meal. You should also floss daily.
- Get regular check-ups from your dentist (and let your dentist know you have diabetes!). For people with diabetes, dentists may recommended dental visits every 3 months. Follow the schedule your dentist suggests. At the appointment, let your dentist know of any changes in your health status and any symptoms you may have (e.g., sores, mouth pain, swelling, or areas of redness in the mouth).
- Get treatment for oral infections immediately.
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