Diabetes and dental care

Diabetes affects the function of the immune system. People with diabetes are more likely to get infections such as gum disease. They may also experience decreased saliva flow which can lead to increased plaque build-up and calculus (tartar) deposits.

Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums. Bacteria can irritate gums if plaque is not cleaned from teeth and gums daily. Irritated gums may look red, swollen and may bleed.

To keep your teeth and gums healthy

  • Gently brush your teeth twice a day using a small, soft toothbrush and a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Spit the toothpaste out, don't rinse.
  • Gently clean between your teeth with floss each day. Your dentist can show you how to floss effectively.
  • Visit your dentist regularly. Seek advice if you have mouth ulcers, sores, infections or pain in your teeth or gums.

If you wear dentures

  • Gently brush your gums once a day.
  • Brush your dentures with a soft brush morning and night.
  • Use soap and cold water then rinse well.
  • Remove your dentures at night and store them in cold water.
  • Make sure they fit well.

It is also important to

  • Limit how much and how often you have food and drink high in sugar.
  • Wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports.
  • Use a chap stick or lip balm with a Sun Protection Factor when outside.
  • Tell your dentist you have diabetes.
  • Quit smoking – smoking can make gum disease worse. Your doctor or dentist can advise and support your decision to quit.