Dental cavities and gum diseases are bacterial infections. Any infection, including dental, can make it more difficult to manage diabetes and increases risk for heart, eye, kidney, and other serious complications.
Diabetes can increase the risk for dental problems, especially periodontal (gum) diseases. This can cause teeth to become loose as the bone to which teeth attach becomes damaged.
High blood sugar can cause a dry mouth. It is a relatively common problem for people with diabetes.
Because saliva helps protect against cavities and gum disease, a “dry mouth” can increase the risk of developing those problems. It can also contribute to thrush, an infection in the mouth caused by a fungus.
How to Prevent Dental Infections
- Excellent oral hygiene. The bacteria can only do dental damage if they stay on the teeth. Daily oral hygiene may not seem important when there are so many other things to do to control diabetes. But removing bacteria from your teeth with good daily oral hygiene is necessary for preventing cavities, gum disease, and the complications they can create. In the battle to control diabetes, a toothbrush and dental floss are useful weapons.
- Regular dental exams and cleanings. Cavities and gum infections may not be noticeable at first, but dentists are able to identify them early and treat them before they become a problem. Having your teeth cleaned regularly is especially important if you develop tartar—the hard, sandy, gritty stuff that can form on teeth. It contributes to periodontal disease by irritating and inflaming the gums. Tartar (calculus) can’t be brushed off, but must be scrapped away by a dentist or hygienist.
- Eliminate Dry Mouth. Relieve dry mouth by sucking on sugarless candy, chewing sugarless gum, or using an “artificial saliva” product.
This information is a public service of the Dental Lifeline Network. The content is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for the medical advice of one’s health care provider.\