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Diabetes and Oral Health: What You Should Know

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Taking care of your teeth and mouth is especially important if you have diabetes. The condition results in a greater risk of oral infection and often slows the healing process. Seeing a dental professional is a slightly different experience for people with diabetes. Learning about handling your diabetes and dental treatment is essential to avoiding complications and maintaining your oral health.

How Does Diabetes Affect Oral Health?

Research shows a higher prevalence of gum disease among people with diabetes, adding gum disease issues to risk factors and heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.

In the U.S., 5% of people have Type 1 diabetes, starting in children and young adults. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, converting sugar, starches, and food into energy.

Type 2 diabetes is the more common type of diabetes in the U.S., with 29.1 million people (9.3%) who have this disease. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin, and the body has higher than normal blood glucose levels. Men are at a higher risk of developing diabetes than women.

Oral Hygiene Tips For People With Diabetes

In addition to getting your diabetes under control, caring for your teeth at home is an integral part of your dental treatment.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day for about two or three minutes each time.
  • Use a toothbrush with a built-in tongue cleaner. Many of the bacteria found in your mouth are actually on your tongue, so cleaning it is a must.
  • Floss daily by wrapping an 18-inch piece of floss in a C-shape around each tooth to remove plaque or biofilm.

Talking to Your Dentist

Handling your diabetes and dental treatment means being open with your dentist about your condition. You might want to ask your doctor and your dentist to communicate so they can keep each other up-to-date about your diabetes. Do your best to get your blood sugar levels under control, particularly before your dental appointment, especially if you are undergoing surgery or another treatment that is expected to cause bleeding. If your glucose levels remain high, talk to your dentist about rescheduling your appointment.

Communication is a big part of a successful dental plan for individuals with diabetes. When you go in for a dental exam, be sure to ask your dentist any questions you have about how diabetes will affect your mouth and your treatment. Working together will help you have the healthiest mouth possible.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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