Diabetes is a chronic metabolic condition characterised by high blood sugar levels. While most people are aware of the impact diabetes has on overall health, they may not realise the significant connection between diabetes and oral health.
In this blog post, we will explore the intricate relationship between diabetes and oral health, shedding light on the potential risks, common oral complications, and practical tips for maintaining good oral hygiene whilst managing diabetes.
The links between diabetes and oral health
Research has established a strong correlation between diabetes and oral health. The condition can affect oral health in several ways, and if you live with the condition, it’s crucial that you’re aware of these links:
- Diabetes can increase the risk of developing gum disease, also known as periodontitis. Elevated blood sugar levels impair the body’s ability to fight bacterial infections, making individuals with diabetes more susceptible to gum disease. Conversely, the presence of gum disease can also make it more challenging to manage blood sugar levels, so you should try to avoid this wherever possible.
- Diabetes can cause dry mouth, a condition where the salivary glands fail to produce sufficient saliva. Dry mouth can lead to discomfort, difficulties in speaking and swallowing, and an increased risk of tooth decay and oral infections.
- Diabetes can slow down the healing process, which can impact oral health. Dental procedures, such as extractions or periodontal treatments, may take longer to heal in individuals with diabetes.
- Uncontrolled diabetes can weaken the immune system, making individuals more prone to oral infections such as thrush (oral candidiasis), a fungal infection characterised by white patches in the mouth.
How to care for your teeth with diabetes
Now you’re aware of the impact diabetes might be having on your oral health, you’ll want to know how to manage it. Here are our top tips to help minimise the damage:
Manage your blood sugar levels
Proper diabetes management is crucial for maintaining good oral health. Monitor blood sugar levels, follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations, and take prescribed medications as directed.
Visit your dentist for regular examinations
Schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings. Inform your dentist about your diabetes diagnosis, medications, and any changes in your condition. Dental professionals can provide personalised care and identify potential oral health issues early.
Practise excellent oral hygiene
Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Floss daily to remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth. Consider using an antimicrobial mouthwash recommended by your dentist.
Minimise dry mouth
Stay hydrated and sip water throughout the day to combat dry mouth. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco, as they can worsen dryness. Sugar-free gum or lozenges can help to stimulate saliva production and prevent your mouth from drying out.
Communicate openly with all your healthcare professionals
Your oral and general health are linked, so communication between your designated healthcare professionals should be too! Be sure to keep us both in the loop and inform us of any changes in your oral health or overall well-being to ensure comprehensive care.
We’re always at the end of the phone
There are lots of things you can do to maintain your oral health if you have diabetes, but it’s important to remember that you’re not in this alone! At Ten Dental, our expert dental professionals are always there if you need support or guidance.
Call us if you ever need any advice, and don’t hesitate to book an examination if you’re concerned about how diabetes might be impacting your oral health.