Dental hygiene is an essential part of everyone’s good health. But did you know that for diabetics, problems with the teeth and gums can be more common and more serious than for the average person. Being aware of how best to look after your teeth is an essential part of learning to live with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Why do diabetics have more problems with their teeth?
Gum disease is one of the most common diseases seen in humans. In its most severe form, known as periodontitis, the gum tissue and bone that support the teeth are destroyed over time, leading to loss of teeth. Periodontitis affects about half of all adults and as many as 85% of people over 65-years of age.
It is estimated that 1 in 3 diabetics suffer from periodontitis at some stage of their disease. For those patients with uncontrolled diabetes, this worsens the gum disease significantly.
Diabetics regularly have higher than normal blood glucose levels which cause higher than normal levels of glucose in the saliva. This creates a great breeding ground for bacteria and in turn raises the risk of dental decay and gum disease.
Diabetes may also lower your ability to fight the germs that cause periodontal (gum) disease.
According to Diabetes.co.uk there are several ways to ensure you maintain a healthy mouth:
7 Ways to ensure good dental hygiene as a diabetic
- Visit your dentist and hygienist every six months to ensure that any infection will be treated as early as possible.
- Make sure your dentist knows you have diabetes.
- Use a good quality toothbrush - it should have soft nylon bristles with rounded ends.
- Don’t smoke.
- Keep blood glucose levels under control – this reduces the risk of infection spreading.
- A fluoride toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth will keep the teeth strong.
- A balanced diet, regular exercise and, where relevant, adherence to your medication regime, remains the best way to keep blood sugar levels under control.
For more information on diabetes and gum disease read this article (reading time 2 mins)