Looking after your oral health is always important – even more so if you have diabetes. We’ve put together expert oral care advice that can help you live healthier if you have diabetes. Did you know there is a two-way link between diabetes and oral health? People with diabetes are at a higher risk of gum disease and cavities.
People with gum disease and poor oral health can find it harder to control blood sugar levels. If you, or someone you know, has diabetes you may already be aware that diabetes puts you at greater risk of gum disease and oral health problems. Less well-known is that periodontitis can increase your risk of diabetes and make it harder for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar.
Gum disease is even more common, affecting about 90% of people at some point in their lives. Gum disease occurs when dental plaque, a sticky bacteria-laden biofilm, builds up on the teeth and gums, causing irritation. The gums become inflamed, red, and swollen. They may bleed when brushing or flossing, Early gum disease, known as gingivitis, can be prevented with an effective daily oral hygiene routine to remove any plaque build-up.
If not treated, gingivitis becomes periodontitis, where plaque below the gum line causes severe inflammation and eventually tooth loss. A professional cleaning done by the oral hygienist at least every six months is recommended. This will help keep your mouth in tip-top shape, removing plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) that can’t be removed by brushing at home.
A meticulous daily oral care routine is the best way to prevent most oral health problems and is even more important if you have diabetes. Here’s an easy-to-follow routine to help children and adults with diabetes protect their oral health and general well-being.
A healthy mouth can be as simple as 1, 2, 3.
- Brush correctly at least twice a day for a full two minutes each time, right up to the gum line.
- Use a soft brush that will be gentler and cleans more effectively.
- A quality electric toothbrush – like the Philips Sonicare or Sunstar GUM ActiVital – will give a ‘supreme clean’ with minimum effort.
- Use mild toothpaste or go for an ultra-natural option like Olgani Naturals.
- Clean in-between
- Floss or clean in-between the teeth daily.
- If you find floss too challenging, try an interdental brush or Sunstar GUM Soft-Picks.
- Not sure which to use? Ask your oral hygienist, they would love to help you.
- After eating and before bed rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash like Dentyl Active, Thryve, or Olgani, alcohol will further dry out the mouth.
Over 40% of people with diabetes experience dry mouth or xerostomia. A dry mouth can make it difficult to swallow and even talk. Because saliva is the body’s way of keeping the mouth clean, plaque and bacteria build up more quickly, and you are at higher risk of bleeding gums, bad breath, and dental decay.
Rehydrating the mouth is the number one priority. Drinking water will give temporary relief and chewing gum can stimulate saliva flow. Regular visits to the dentist and effective oral care will help you live healthier with diabetes. Once you are diagnosed, schedule a dental appointment right away. Let them know about your diagnosis and continue to go for regular check-ups which enable your dental team to detect any problems early.