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Diabetes and a Healthy Mouth

People with Type 2 Diabetes are around three times more likely to develop dental problems than people who don’t have Diabetes. People with Type 1 Diabetes are also more at risk.

One of the most common causes is having high blood sugar levels for a long period of time. Too much sugar in your blood can lead to your mouth being the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. This bacteria produces acid which attacks your tooth enamel and damages your gums. 

High blood sugar levels can also damage the blood vessels in your gums and this makes them more likely to get infected. 

It can affect you the other way around too. Gum disease and infection can in turn increase your blood sugar levels, which can lead to other complications like heart disease.

Looking after your teeth and gums should be an important part of how you manage your Diabetes. A good oral health routine can prevent these potential complications or spot them early enough to get the right treatment from your dentist. We’ve got information on how to keep your mouth healthy – a big part of this is about regularly checking your blood sugars and trying to keep to your target range.

Types of dental problems

Mouth problems linked to your Diabetes can include:

  • tooth decay
  • gum inflammation (Gingivitis)
  • infection in the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth (Periodontitis)
  • dry mouth (Xerostomia)
  • fungal infections (Oral Thrush) 
  • irritated and sore mouth, meaning you might have difficulty wearing dentures, eating or speaking.
  • tooth loss
  • Abscesses.

The early signs of mouth problems are things like redness, soreness and bad breath. If you notice these, don’t ignore them and make an appointment with your dentist. Getting the right treatment early can prevent severe infections, tooth loss and other complications down the road.

Keep your mouth healthy

  • Check your blood sugars – regularly check them and try to keep in your target range.
  • Brush teeth twice a day – reduce the plaque by brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between them regularly.
  • See your dentist regularly –dental checkups from an NHS dentist are free in Scotland. Click here to find out how to register with a dentist if you don’t already have one.
  • Choose the right food and drink – follow a healthy, balanced diet which is low in sugar.
  • Don’t smoke – smoking weakens your immune system, making it harder for you to fight a gum infection. Once you have gum disease, smoking also makes it harder for your gums to heal. Get help with giving up smoking
  • If you wear dentures, make sure you clean them daily, as a build-up of bacteria can lead to oral thrush. You can read more here about how to keep dentures clean.