For over one million Australians, managing diabetes is part of everyday life. But an often-overlooked side effect is that diabetes can potentially increase your risk of developing oral health conditions.
If you’re among the many people with diabetes, here’s what you need to know about diabetes and dental health.
How diabetes affects dental health
Diabetes leaves sufferers prone to dental health issues for a range of reasons:
- Poor blood glucose control creates an environment where bacteria can thrive and this increases the risk of infections.
- Dry mouth is a common side effect when blood glucose levels are high. This lack of saliva promotes decay.
- Diabetes medications can also promote dry mouth
- Hypoglycaemic treatments like lollies and fizzy drinks can also promote tooth decay
Together, these issues can have very real impacts on your dental health.
Diabetes and tooth decay
Tooth decay is caused by bacteria that builds up in plaque, and one of its favoured things to feed on is sugar. Ultimately, as the bacteria feeds, it produces acid that wears down the enamel of your teeth, leading to decay.
As people with diabetes tend to have a higher glucose content in their saliva, this creates an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive. Meanwhile, people with diabetes also tend to be more prone to dry mouth where they produce less saliva. Again, this offers an optimum environment for bacteria.
Diabetes and gum disease
The same bacteria that causes decay also has the potential to affect the gums, causing gum disease. Gum disease sees the gums swell and become irritated. They may even bleed during brushing. If left untreated, gum disease can progress to affect the bone that holds teeth in place, and it is one of the leading causes of preventable tooth loss in adults.
Top tips for better dental health
The best way of preventing potential dental health implications is to carefully manage your blood glucose levels, but there are also a host of other simple strategies you can employ, including:
Regular brushing and flossing – A vigilant dental hygiene routine helps prevent the build-up of the plaque which leads to tooth decay. Ensure you brush your teeth thoroughly at least twice daily and floss once a day.
Regular dentist checkups – As a person with diabetes you will need to see the dentist more regularly, at least every six months. Regular appointments help keep your teeth free of plaque and tartar, and can also identify potential problems like gum disease.
Stay hydrated – Drinking water regularly helps eliminate the effects of dry mouth, and also helps flush away food residue. Chewing sugar-free gum can also assist.
Brush after sugar – If you have consumed sugar in order to treat hypoglycaemia, brush your teeth half an hour afterwards to remove the sugary residue from your teeth.
About Brite Dental
Brite Dental is a community-focused dental practice, committed to ensuring you and your family receive the highest quality of care in a warm and professional environment.
Offering a full range of dental services ranging, from children’s dentistry through to high-end cosmetic dentistry, we are conveniently located in central Panania.