If you suffer from diabetes you may be aware that you need to take special care of your oral health. It is estimated that 1 in 3 people with diabetes suffer from gum disease and this group are particularly prone to gingivitis and periodontal disease.
It is thought that increased blood glucose levels make people with diabetes more susceptible to developing gum disease, but also once gum disease takes hold it becomes harder to treat and manage the problem.
Factors That Increase Risk Of Gum Disease
The following factors may affect patients with diabetes, when addressed can help you reduce your risk of developing gum disease:
- High blood glucose levels: higher than normal glucose levels in the salvia, which increases the bacteria in the mouth, that cause gum disease.
- Dry mouth: one of the unpleasant side effects of diabetes can be a lack of salvia in the mouth. Salvia provides a protection for your teeth and gums, making it harder for plaque and tartar to build up and cause infections such as gum disease.
- Bad breath: people with diabetes can also be more prone to suffering from bad breath (halitosis). This is because of the presence of high levels of bacteria in the mouth; the bacteria emit foul-smelling gases that are cause of bad breath. This bacteria is responsible for gum disease so is an early sign that the person may have, or be at risk of developing this condition.
Why Treating Gum Disease Is More Difficult If You Have Diabetes
Unfortunately, being diabetic not only means you are at a higher risk of developing gum disease, but it can also be more difficult to treat. This is because periodontal disease (the more serious type of gum disease) is a form of infection and this may cause your blood glucose levels to rise. This can then make managing your diabetes, as well as treating the gum disease, more difficult as your blood glucose levels increase and impact on your health.
Therefore it is not only important to understand that the risk of developing gum disease is higher if you have diabetes, but also that gum disease can have a damaging affect on your ability to control your diabetes.
Advice For Patients With Diabetes
Managing your blood glucose levels is essential for your wellbeing as well as your oral health, advice on this can be found here on diabetes.co.uk. Apart from this there is nothing radically different you need to do in terms of your oral care regime. We recommend the following:
Give up smoking: smokers are also at high risk of developing gum disease so if you are also diabetic your risk increases more so.
Regular check ups: as your ability to control your blood glucose levels can be affected by gum disease, it is very important to have regular check ups with your dentist who may be the first to spot any problems.
Brushing twice a day: Brushing for at least 2 minutes twice a day is the standard advice giving by dentists. You should always brush last thing at night before you go to bed, minimising the amount of bacteria in your mouth throughout the night. Brushing after meals is also a good idea; as is regular flossing, using interdentals and a Gum Saver brush.
Keep hydrated: If you are prone to a dry mouth you can improve this by drinking water regularly to keep hydrated.
Rinse after meals with water: If it’s not feasible to brush your teeth after a meal, rinse with water instead. This will help wash away food particles, bacteria and provide moisture in your mouth.
Perhaps the most important advice is to combine an effective oral care routine with managing your blood sugar levels. If you have any questions about this, please either leave a comment below or find support for diabetes on diabetes.co.uk