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Diabetes Health Center

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Diabetes and Dental Care

Diabetes can affect your whole body, including your mouth. So you’ll want to take special care of your teeth and gums. It’s also important to manage your blood sugar. Over time, increased levels of blood glucose can put you at risk for oral health problems.

Watch out for:

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With all the research on diabetes and advances in diabetes treatments, it's tempting to think someone has surely found a diabetes cure by now. But the reality is that there is no cure for diabetes -- neither type 1 diabetes nor type 2 diabetes. However, there are treatments, including simple things you can do daily, that make a big difference.

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  • Dry mouth, which can lead to soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay.
  • Inflammation in your gums.
  • Thrush. People with diabetes who often take antibiotics to fight infections are more likely to get this fungal infection of the mouth and tongue. The fungus thrives on the high levels of sugar in the saliva of people with uncontrolled diabetes. It can give your mouth and tongue a burning feeling.

You can do a lot to avoid these problems, starting with the basics of taking good care of your mouth, teeth, and gums.

Everyday Dental Care Tips

  • Keep your blood sugar as close to normal as possible.
  • If you have dry mouth, try a mouthwash without alcohol.
  • Brush your teeth after every meal. Wait at least 30 minutes after eating before brushing to protect any tooth enamel that's been softened by acid in the food.
  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles.
  • Floss at least once a day.
  • If you wear dentures, remove them and clean them daily. Do not sleep in them.
  • If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.

 

Work With Your Dentist

Tell your dentist that you have diabetes and what medicines you take. Let her know if your blood sugar level is off-track, and if you take insulin, tell her when you took your most recent dose.

Get your teeth and gums cleaned and checked by your dentist twice a year. Your dentist may recommend that you do it more often, depending upon your condition.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on August 18, 2015

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