You’ve found this article, so it is likely you or someone you care about is dealing with the health consequences of Diabetes. What you might not know is that living with diabetes puts you at higher risk for oral health issues, like gum inflammation (also called gingivitis). Recent research suggests that oral health can be linked to diabetes. Learn more about the risk factors and what you can do to maintain a healthy smile.
When blood sugar levels are not controlled, levels of glucose in the saliva can increase. This makes it easier for bacteria to build up and grow, leaving you more susceptible to gum disease and tooth decay. Diabetics are more likely to have gingivitis and at TWICE the risk of advanced gum disease (periodontitis)*. You have many choices when it comes to oral health products; some are indicated for and address the symptoms of gum disease while others do not. Products you decide to use in your oral care routine matter!
Elevated glucose levels can lead to other health issues as well, and your mouth is directly tied to your overall health. Controlling your glucose levels is the first and most important step in your oral health journey.
Gingivitis (an early stage of gum inflammation) can progress into periodontitis, a more advanced form of gum disease which is more common amongst people with diabetes and increases your risk of tooth loss. Gingivitis is the medical term for an infection in your mouth your body is trying to fight off. You benefit most when you detect it early and work to reverse it. Common symptoms associated with gum disease not present in a healthy mouth include:
- Swollen, sensitive, or dark pink gums
- Bleeding gums (when brushing or flossing)
- Receding gums
- Bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
- Loose teeth
Gum disease occurs when plaque accumulates on teeth; with time this plaque can become more toxic and can lead to inflammation and infection of the gums. Since diabetics are more susceptible to gum disease, it is even more important to pay attention to your oral hygiene routine. Combining the right toothpaste and round electric toothbrush can effectively reduce plaque bacteria and gum disease.
- Brush at least twice a day to effectively remove plaque and keep gums healthy. Consider using an electric (rechargeable) toothbrush like the “round for a reason” Oral B iO to power away up to 100% more dental plaque along the gum line than a regular manual toothbrush.
- Switch to a gum health toothpaste like Crest Gum Detoxify; its activated foam formula seeks out and neutralizes harmful plaque bacteria around the gum line for clinically proven healthier gums. Other Crest toothpastes that help reverse gingivitis and contain stabilized stannous fluoride as an active ingredient are: Crest Pro-Health, Crest Pro-Health Advanced, Crest Gum & Enamel Repair, Crest Gum & Sensitivity, Crest Gum & Breath Purify, and Crest Pro-Active Defense.
- Floss at least once a day. Glide floss slides easily between teeth to give a thorough clean.
- Rinse with antimicrobial mouthwash to prevent plaque growth in between brushings. Look for a rinse that’s alcohol-free to limit gum irritation and mouth dryness like Crest Pro-Health.
- See your dental professional regularly for cleanings and checkups.
A thorough oral care routine can help keep your smile healthy and vibrant, which in turn, can help you maintain your overall health as well.
Albandar JM, Tinoco EM. Global epidemiology of periodontal diseases in children and young persons. Periodontology 2000 2002;29: 153-76.
American Dental Association (ADA): Oral-systemic Health
Working Together to Manage Diabetes: A GUIDE FOR PHARMACY, PODIATRY, OPTOMETRY, AND DENTISTRY
*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes fact sheet: national estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.