Maintaining Dental Health with Diabetes

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
December 6, 2017

Person checking blood sugar with meter

Did you know that if you have diabetes, your risk of oral health problems might be higher? But don’t worry; there are some easy steps you can take daily to support the strength of your teeth and gums. With the right strategy, you’ll be able to maintain that lovely smile for years to come, so check out the tips below to get started.

First Off, What Can Diabetes Do to Your Mouth?

Before tackling what you can do to keep your teeth shiny and strong, it’s important to cover what diabetes could actually do to your mouth. Here are a few of the common symptoms that may arise in diabetic patients:

  • If your diabetes goes untreated, you may notice that you don’t have as much saliva as you should, and that could lead to uncomfortable dry mouth. Once that condition occurs, your teeth might become more susceptible to developing cavities. Yikes!
  • Some diabetics may find that they’re more susceptible to gum disease. For example, you might develop gingivitis, which leads to gums that are inflamed and that bleed easily. And you wouldn’t be alone either, as periodontal disease is actually one of the more common dental ailments amongst diabetics. Why? Well, a lack of control over your blood sugar could boost your risk of gum disease. And having gum disease may also increase your blood sugar too. So it’s a vicious cycle.   
  • You might have noted that, ever since you developed diabetes, infections in your mouth are more common than they were before. Wounds may also heal more slowly. And thrush, which is an infection that’s the result of fungus in the mouth, is yet another oral health problem that’s associated with diabetes. Not fun!

Here’s What You Can Do to Take Control

Diabetes might make you more susceptible to a variety of oral health problems, but that doesn’t mean that you’ve lost control. In addition to monitoring your blood sugar and keeping it within a healthy range with the help of diet, exercise, and medications, as well as not smoking, you should also make sure to thoroughly clean your dentures daily if you wear them.

Brushing and flossing every day at home is extremely important for everyone, but if you have diabetes, you can take extra steps to ensure you’re getting a thorough clean every time. Here are a few ways to take your brushing and flossing routine to the next level:

  1. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, including before going to bed. Each time you brush, do so for a full two minutes.
  2. After brushing, spit out the toothpaste but don’t rinse your mouth with water. Instead, allow the fluoride in the toothpaste to remain on your teeth in order to keep working.
  3. Use dental floss at least once a day to thoroughly clean anything that your toothbrush missed in between your teeth. This is a really important step if you want to have healthy gums, so even though flossing can be annoying, it’s totally worth it. Trust us.
  4. Talk to your dentist about which type of mouthwash would be best for you, as there are some that could help combat dry mouth, and there are even some that are antibacterial.

Most Importantly…

Everyone could benefit from seeing their dentist at least twice a year for a checkup and professional cleaning. If you have diabetes, however, these visits with your dentist will be even more important. Just be sure to let your dentist know that you have diabetes so you can receive the appropriate treatments. And don’t forget to let him or her know about your medications too!

Plus, if you have gum disease, seeing your dentist regularly will help ensure it is detected in its earliest stages when it will be easiest to treat. Plus, getting the right treatment for gum disease might even improve your blood sugar control. Remember, diabetes and oral health problems are connected, so treating one could help improve the other as well. It’s a win-win!

Pro tip: with a Spirit dental plan, you gain access to three dental cleanings per year!

It’s Pretty Basic!

Overall, maintaining the health of your teeth and gums when you have diabetes is really similar to the strategies that would be used by anyone who doesn’t have diabetes. Brushing and flossing at home and seeing your dentist twice a year are basic steps that you can take to keep your mouth free of infections and cavities. But if you are diabetic, just be aware that your risk might be higher for conditions like gum disease, so being a little extra diligent with your oral hygiene certainly won’t hurt. And once you fall into a solid routine of keeping your entire mouth clean, you’ll be smiling more than usual to show off those beautiful teeth!


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