Diabetes and oral care
Brushing up on tooth and gum health if you’re living with diabetes
7 June 2021
With any chronic condition, there’s a lot to think about – medical appointments, medication and your lifestyle, just to name a few. Diabetes is no different, so you could be forgiven for overlooking your oral health.
When it comes to living with diabetes, the most common dental problem is advanced gum disease (called periodontitis, for those who can pronounce it!), which causes the gums or bones around the affected teeth to recede. The risk of developing periodontitis is higher for people living with diabetes, particularly if your blood glucose levels are outside the recommended range.
Unfortunately, the damage caused by periodontitis is irreversible, and will require treatment from a dental professional and lifelong care. That’s why it’s important to manage your sugar levels with the support of a health professional, and see your dentist regularly so they can look for early signs.
Time to get brushing and flossing!
Tooth decay is also more common for people living with diabetes. This is because receding gums from periodontitis expose the root, and decreases the amount of saliva you produce (which can cause a dry mouth).
This means that your mouth’s natural defence – for washing away food, neutralising harmful acids and carrying minerals that help strengthen your tooth enamel – is compromised. Good dental hygiene and regularly drinking tap water (with fluoride in it) will help to fight tooth decay.
Being aware of fungal infections
People living with diabetes are more at risk of fungal infections because any wounds in your mouth will heal more slowly or not heal as well. Combine this with less saliva in your mouth, and you’re more at risk of getting fungal infections. If your blood sugar levels aren’t under control, then this risk is higher still.
In short, there’s a lot you can do to look after your teeth and gums – along with your overall health – when living with diabetes. So be sure to check in regularly with your doctor and follow their advice.