The most common oral health problems affecting people with diabetes are:
* gum disease
* dry mouth
* tooth decay
* mouth ulcers
* taste disturbances
* gum abscesses (an infection of the tooth and/or gums).
Why do people with diabetes have a greater risk of oral health problems?
Poor blood glucose control leads to bacterial growth (bacteria loves the sweet environment) and increases the risk of infections. Dry mouth can also occur when blood glucose levels are high.
Medications for diabetes, blood pressure, heart problems and anti-depressants may cause dry mouth and taste disturbance, such as a metallic taste.
Smokers have a much higher risk of gum disease and smoking may also contribute to having a dry mouth.
Hypo treatments such as sweetened fizzy drinks and lollies can lead to tooth decay.
Important tips to help prevent oral health problems.
Keep blood glucose levels within target (if you are unsure of what your target levels should be talk to your diabetes educator, diabetes specialist or GP).
Follow a healthy diet (if you need help with this see your local Accredited Practicing Dietitian).
Clean your teeth and gums twice a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride. Make sure the teeth are visibly clean: use a torch or good light.
Use dental floss or inter-dental cleaners every day to clean between your teeth.
Avoid a dry mouth by drinking plenty of water. Chewing sugar-free gum may help stimulate saliva production but is not a substitute for drinking water. Biotene has a range of dry mouth products that may help.
Give up smoking.
If you treat a hypo, it is a good idea to brush your teeth an hour later to remove sugar from your teeth to prevent decay and cavities.
See your dentist every six months (even if you wear dentures, you are still at risk of gum disease).