Diabetes Dental Care – Don’t Forget to Floss!

dental careGood diabetes dental care is an absolute must! Diabetics have almost twice the risk of developing periodontal (gum) disease than non-diabetics. In fact, just over 30 percent of diabetics have severe periodontal disease. Geez! As if you didn’t have enough to worry about already!

This condition occurs because high blood glucose (sugar) helps bacteria grow. Plaque on your teeth is bacteria. The higher your blood glucose levels the more it helps the bacteria in your gums grow. The stronger and more prevalent the bacteria becomes the more it destroys your gums and jaw bone, leading to periodontal disease.

Smoking can also exacerbate this condition making it worse.

There are a number of other oral conditions that affect diabetes, that we discuss in more detail below.

Signs of Diabetes Dental Problems:

  • Red, sore and swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Gums pulling away from your teeth
  • Loose or sensitive teeth
  • Bad Breath
  • Ill fitting dentures or false Teeth
  • Loose or sensitive teeth

Ultimately, if left unchecked and with continued poor diabetes management, tooth loss can occur.

Keeping Your Gums Healthy:

dental care

  • Tell your dentist you have diabetes
  • Keep Blood Glucose Level Normal. Remember, glucose feeds bacteria.
  • Use dental floss daily. Dental floss removes plaque, the bacteria that cause periodontal disease.
  • Bush after meals and snacks. Use a soft toothbrush and brush gently in small circular motions.
  • Visit your dentist twice a year for check-ups and cleanings
  • Consult with your dentist immediately if you are experiencing any of the above signs
  • Eat Healthy
  • Exercise
  • Control your blood pressure and cholesterol

Also, don’t brush too hard. Brushing too hard can also lead to destroying your gums. Also, brush your tongue to destroy bacteria.

When you floss, gently move the floss between the teeth. You don’t want to push the floss into the gum with too much force. Gently slide the floss up and down along each tooth surface.

Other Dental and Oral Complications

Periodontal disease is not the only oral healthcare item to keep an eye on. Because bacteria and fungai likes the excess sugar in your mouth, other infections are more common as well.

A common infection is thrush. Thrush looks like a white or red patch and is more commonly found in children. However, if you have diabetes it is an issue as well. Typically, an antibiotic is used to treat it. If you wear dentures, make sure you check under them often for thrush.

If you have oral surgery, the wound often will heal slower. Make sure your doctor knows you have diabetes, so you can get secial care instructions to make sure you heal properly.

Dry mouth is also a common problem. Saliva is an essential part of keeping germs at bay in your mouth. Talk to your doctor about how to treat dry mouth if you have it.

Now you know why good dental care is a must! Happy brushing and flossing!


National Institute of Health, Publication No. 08-4280, Keep your teeth and gums healthy, April 2008 (Assessed February 2013).
Oral Health and Hygiene, ADA (accessed February 2013).
By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed April 2013.