Essential Oral Health Tips for Patients with Diabetes

It’s a little-known fact that having diabetes makes taking care of your oral health even more important. 

As well as harming the eyes, nerves, kidneys, and heart, diabetes is a disease that can also affect other important systems in the body, including the mouth. 

So, why exactly are people with diabetes more at risk from harm and what are our top tips for oral health? 

Why does diabetes make oral health more important? 

There are a few factors that make poor dental health habits harmful for those living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, including: 

  • Reduced saliva production – causing a condition referred to as dry mouth. This can increase the acidity level of the mouth and also provide the perfect environment for the bacteria responsible for cavities. 
  • Increased glucose in the saliva – leading to a higher chance of periodontal (gum) disease.
  • Slower healing – diabetes can affect circulation, making it difficult for the blood to take the necessary nutrients for healing to a wound.

For these reasons, it is essential that those with diabetes attend to their dental health every day. 

How to keep your mouth healthy with diabetes

There are many things you can do to protect your teeth and gums. 

Our top tips include: 

Check your blood sugars regularly 

Checking them regularly and keeping your blood sugar within your target range is a simple way to protect every structure within the body – including your teeth, gums, and tongue. 

Clean your teeth diligently 

A good oral hygiene routine will work wonders for reducing the chances of gum disease and can also brighten the smile. 

You should:

  • Brush at least twice daily for two minutes with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste 
  • Floss at least once a day – you can also use interdental brushes
  • Use sugar-free chewing gum or rinse the mouth with mouthwash or water after snacks 

If you wear dentures, this also applies to you – ensure you clean them daily and always remove them for sleeping. 

Attend appointments with dentists and hygienists 

On top of attending podiatry and optometrist appointments, you should be sure to visit your dentist and hygienist at least twice a year. 

This will help to ensure that plaque doesn’t build up, it can be removed if it does, and you can keep on top of any other oral conditions, such as dry mouth or wounds. 

Don’t smoke 

A large side effect of diabetes is reduced healing – a factor that is worsened by smoking. This means if you do develop gum disease or have wounds in the mouth, recovering from them will be even harder. 

Alongside this, smoking can also weaken your immune system, making it harder to fight off the infection that accompanies gum disease. 

Maintain a healthy diet

While this will already be a focus so you can keep your blood sugar levels at the appropriate range, choosing a low-sugar menu will also mean a restricted diet for the bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities. 

Inhibiting the chances of developing gum disease. 

A good relationship with your dentist can save your smile 

Poor oral hygiene can affect everyone’s wider health, but especially those who are living with type 1 or 2 diabetes. 

If this is you, a good relationship with a local dentist is essential and can help to stop you from developing gum disease while also maintaining a bright and youthful smile. 

If you aren’t currently registered with a dentist in Hammersmith or a dentist in Putney, we would urge you to do so as soon as possible – it really can make all the difference. 

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