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Aug17

2019

Caring for your teeth with diabetes

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diabetes and oral hygiene at taree dental care

1.7 million Aussies have diabetes.  Maybe one of the 1.7 million is you, or someone you care for or love.

It is the epidemic of the 21st century and one of the biggest challenges confronting Australia’s health system.

It is a serious condition that requires constant management and if you live with diabetes, you are also more prone to oral health issues including gum disease, tooth infections and tooth decay.

It’s not all bad news –  it simply boils down to a little extra care.✔️

Which oral health problems are people with diabetes more prone to?

  •  Gum disease
  • Oral infections    
  • Tooth decay
  •  Dry or burning mouth

Why are diabetics at higher risk?

There are a few factors which explain why a bit of extra dental care is needed:

  • Glucose levels in saliva – People with diabetes have higher blood glucose levels, and this also applies to their saliva. High glucose levels in saliva means more sugar for bad bacteria to feed on, which contributes to gum disease, tooth decay and oral infections.
  • Hypo treatments – Fizzy drinks, lollies and other sweet things used to treat hypo episodes are loaded with sugars and acids which can damage teeth.
  • Medications – Some diabetes medications can cause dry mouth.  Dry mouth, apart from being uncomfortable, can lead to oral infections, and particularly oral thrush. Diabetic medications can also cause taste changes such as a metallic flavour.

How can people with diabetes protect their teeth?

The risk factors associated with diabetes mean people with diabetes need to exercise a little more care than most.

Luckily, most of the care is common sense and easily managed.

  • Keep blood glucose levels in check – all diabetics should be doing this regardless, and this also helps with dental and oral care. Make sure you stay up to date with your target glucose levels and keep them in order.
  • Establish a good oral care routine – teeth and gums should be brushed at least twice a day and floss should be used to clean between teeth and help prevent gum disease. Eat healthy food – avoid excess sugars and acidic food and drink.
  • Brush your teeth after consuming sugar 🧁– if you have to treat a ‘hypo episode’ with sugary products make sure you clean your teeth thoroughly afterwards. Stay hydrated🥛 – by drinking lots of water and chewing a sugar-free gum you can avoid dry mouth symptoms.
  • Quit smoking – this is an excellent thing to do for your general health anyway, but it will also help prevent dry mouth and lower your risk of gum disease, tooth decay and infection.
  • Visit your dentist regularly 🦷– every six months. Remember to keep your dentist up to date with your medical history and any changes in your health.

Prevention is always better than cure; keeping on top of your oral health now can save you a lot of pain and bother in the future.

If you have any other questions about diabetes management, check out the Diabetes Australia website.  They have a tonne of great resources.

And if you have any questions about this blog, or other oral hygiene issues, please give us a call at Taree Dental Care.

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