Diabetes and dental health

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

For most of us visiting the dentist isn’t particularly fun, even if you only have to go twice a year. But while it can be easy to put off, regular check ups are particularly important for people living with diabetes.

Did you know that diabetes can affect your dental health? High blood glucose levels can cause dry mouth which can lead to plaque build-up on your teeth and tooth decay. Blood glucose can feed bacteria in your mouth leading to oral thrush and tooth decay. People with diabetes are more likely to develop mouth ulcers, gum disease and infections. Yikes!

If this all sounds scary, the good news is that you, with the help of your dentist, can help prevent these problems.

What is recommended to prevent oral health problems?

  • Keep your blood glucose levels mostly in target. You can do this by eating a healthy diet, regular physical activity, taking your medication as prescribed and attending regular reviews with your GP. If you’re concerned about your blood glucose levels, speak to your GP or diabetes team.
  • Brush those teeth! It’s recommended that you brush at least twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes. That’s as long as it takes you to sing the Happy Birthday Song twice in your head.
  • Get flossy. Use dental floss between your teeth at least once a day. Don’t like flossing? Try a floss pick. What if you struggle to remember to floss? Try to floss at the same time every morning or evening, set yourself a reminder or leave the floss somewhere visible, like on your bedside table or next to your toothbrush.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking has many known negative side effects, including an increased risk of gum disease.
  • Drink water. Water is the best way to stay hydrated, it has zero kilojoules it can also help prevent dry mouth. Fizzy drinks and sugar sweetened beverages tend to be quite acidic and can damage your teeth, so it’s best to avoid these unless treating a hypo.
  • Take your dentures out at night and give them a clean every day.
  • See you dentist for a dental check up every 6 months, or more often if needed.

If you’re concerned about problems with your teeth or gums, there are a few signs to look out for:

  • Gums that are red, swollen or bleed easily
  • Bad breath
  • Pus between the teeth and gums
  • Loose teeth or a change in the way your dentures fit

If you’re concerned about your teeth or gums, speak to your GP or dentist for more information or ring the customer care line for general advice about managing your diabetes and staying healthy.

Me is all about what you need to do for yourself, managing your diabetes and doing what you can.

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