10 Ways to take care of your teeth while you have diabetes
Dr. Sugandh Goel
Senior Medical Content Writer, BDS, MS (Healthcare Management), Carnegie Mellon University, USA.
- Posted On October 07, 2021
We all want a shining smile, but nobody likes the sound of a dentist's drill. And when you have diabetes, your number of visits to your dentist is bound to increase.
So does it mean that diabetes and dental problems are interrelated?
Well, you guessed it right! Yes, they are, where one can lead to another or vice versa.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that spells havoc on your entire body, including your eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart, and even your pearly whites.
Uncontrolled Diabetes and Unattended Dental Problems - A Correlation
Research has shown 42% of people with diabetes develop severe gum disease (periodontitis). Diabetes significantly worsens gum disease and causes bone loss around teeth, which in turn causes your teeth to loosen and possibly fall out.
Similarly, untreated gum infection may cause your blood sugar to rise and make it harder to control your diabetes.
But what you need to understand is that having diabetes itself isn't usually the cause of your dental problems, but diabetes increases the risk for it and often makes them worse.
So to prevent damage to your teeth and gums from raised blood sugars, you should take diabetes and dental care seriously.
In other words, prevention is in your hands! Get your regular dental checkups and follow the instructions of your Doctor and Diabetes Coach for keeping your blood sugars in the target range.
Diabetes Detected By A Dentist: Is It Possible?
Uncontrolled diabetes leads to raised glucose levels in saliva that may promote bacterial growth. This will further cause more plaque and tartar formation. As a result, your dentist will immediately notice if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen and tender gums
- Gums that can be easily pulled away from the teeth
- Pus between the teeth and gums
- Dryness inside the mouth
- Cavities or dental caries
- Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
- Loose or separating teeth
- Any changes in the way your teeth "fit" when you bite.
- Oral fungal infection
- Poor healing wound/ulcers inside the mouth
So don't be surprised if your dentist detects diabetes after examining your mouth and may refer you to your physician to confirm its diagnosis. Click here to know more about how untreated diabetes can harm your oral health.
Taking Care Of Your Teeth While You Have Diabetes
Here are 10 simple ways to take care of your dental health as you are dealing with diabetes.
- Control your diabetes: The better you control your blood sugars, the less likely you will develop dental problems. Research has also shown that patients who do not have good blood sugar control often experience more gum problems and lose more teeth than people who have good control of their diabetes.
To manage diabetes effectively, take guidance from Diabetes Educators and Nutritionists who will guide you to get the best control of your blood sugars. And this is where Diabefly Pro, a Diabetes Management Program, can help you manage your diabetes smartly with its team of experts.
- Get regular dental checkups: Since you are diagnosed with diabetes, you should visit your dentist every six months for cleanings and preventive care. During a regular checkup, your dentists or dental hygienists remove plaque and tartar, leading to gum disease. Excavate cavities and restore teeth before it becomes extremely painful & progresses to root canal treatment.
- Maintain your oral hygiene at home: Brush your teeth gently in a circular motion with a super soft bristles toothbrush at least twice a day for a minimum of two minutes. Avoid harsh or vigorous scrubbing because it can be counterproductive and irritate your gums. Also, don't forget to change your toothbrush after every three months.
Floss at least once every day to remove plaque between your teeth and areas where your toothbrush can't reach.
- Avoid high-sugar foods: It will cause both blood sugar spikes and tooth decay. Instead, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber foods like beans and whole grains.
- Quit smoking and don't use any tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco like khaini, gutkha, betel quid, and zarda: Smoking increases the risk of severe diabetes complications and also causes loss of your teeth. Similarly, smokeless tobacco users are more likely to have poor oral hygiene, cavities, gum diseases, and a high risk of developing oral cancer.
- Inform your dentist in every visit that you have diabetes: Since you need special oral care, make sure that your dentist knows that you have diabetes and the medications you are taking. Also, ensure that your dentist has the contact information of your doctor who helps in managing your diabetes.
- Get your blood sugars in control before going for dental procedures: This is very important if you are undergoing dental surgery or any other treatment like tooth extraction that can cause bleeding. Because uncontrolled diabetes can interfere with wound healing. If your blood glucose levels remain high, speak to your dentist about rescheduling your appointment.
- Talk to your dentist about how diabetes will affect your teeth and your treatment: Communicating correctly with your dentist is a big part of a successful dental plan as you live with diabetes. Working together will avoid additional dental work beyond regular cleanings in the future and will help you have the healthiest mouth possible.
- If you wear dentures, remove them before going to bed and clean them every day: Give your mouth and your dentures a break by removing them at night or for at least six hours a day. It will allow the tissues in your mouth to recover and also control bad breath.
- Drink a lot of water: This will help you fight dry mouth and diabetes-related bad breath. You can prevent bad breath by swishing your mouth with a mouthwash and using a tongue scraper daily.
If you are committed to practicing these recommendations, you don't have to worry about your beautiful smile fading away anytime soon. Learn from experts what you're up against (diabetes in this case), and then take charge of your dental health.
Complement your dental treatment plan with a Digital Therapeutic like Diabefly for holistic care around nutrition, physical activity, weight, and stress management.
Allow Diabefly Pro with its team of experienced coaches to guide you in every step you take towards diabetes management. In return, you will be rewarded with a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
- Rawal, I., Ghosh, S., Hameed, S.S. et al. Association between poor oral health and diabetes among Indian adult population: potential for integration with NCDs. BMC Oral Health 19, 191 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12903-019-0884-4
- Agbor MA, Azodo CC, Tefouet TS. Smokeless tobacco use, tooth loss and oral health issues among adults in Cameroon. Afr Health Sci. 2013 Sep;13(3):785-90. doi: 10.4314/ahs.v13i3.38. PMID: 24250322; PMCID: PMC3824433.
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