How can I keep my teeth and gums healthy if I have diabetes?

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If you have diabetes, you are at greater risk of developing some oral health problems. It's important to tell your dentist that you have diabetes so she or he can factor this into your care and look for any early warning signs of oral health problems.

Good oral hygiene habits, including professional cleanings at the dental office, are important if you are to control the progression of gum disease and other oral health problems. Regular dental checkups and periodontal screenings are important for evaluating overall dental health and for treating dental problems in their initial stages. Your dentist may recommend more frequent evaluations and preventive procedures, such as teeth cleaning, to maintain good oral health.

Diabetes makes a person more susceptible to infections and slower to heal. To prevent teeth and gum problems with diabetes, you should see your dentist regularly for a dental exam and cleaning. Your dentist can diagnose any dental problems and offer treatment to correct any problems that may be found. Proper brushing and flossing are important to prevent cavities and gum disease. If you have dental surgery, you may be slower to heal with diabetes. Your dentist can best advise you about dental surgery and diabetes.

If you have diabetes, you can lower your chances of getting a gum or tooth problem by taking these steps:

  • Keep your blood glucose in your target range.
  • Brush your teeth and tongue for two minutes at least twice a day.
  • Use a soft bristle brush and use short gentle strokes across all sides of your teeth. Avoid rough brushing. A toothbrush with a small head makes it easier to reach your back teeth.
  • Clean between your teeth with dental floss.
  • Quit smoking. Talk with your health care team about ways to quit.
  • See your dentist twice a year to have your teeth cleaned and checked.
  • Tell your dentist you have diabetes and mention any problems you've noticed. Keep your dentist up to date on your medicines and your A1C test result. (The A1C is a test that tells you your average blood glucose over the last 2 to 3 months.)

Continue Learning about Diabetes and Oral Health

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.