How do type 1 and type 2 diabetes increase the risk of dental problems?

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All types of diabetes increase the risk of dental problems. Diabetes can increase the risk of fungal infections (thrush) in the mouth and in other parts of the body.

Type 1 diabetes is commonly diagnosed in children and young adults, but it's a lifelong condition. If you have this type of diabetes, your body does not make insulin, so you must take insulin every day. Treatment for type 1 diabetes includes taking insulin shots or using an insulin pump, making healthy food choices, getting regular physical activity, taking aspirin daily (for many people) and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The most common type of diabetes is type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes is more common in adulthood although children and teens may get type 2 diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, the insulin the body makes does not work effectively. Treatment for type 2 diabetes may include weight loss, a balanced diet to help keep your blood sugar managed, regular exercise and sometimes medications. With type 2 diabetes, you need to pay attention to your daily oral hygiene, brushing your teeth two or three times daily and flossing at least once each day. You also have to be aware of possible dental problems such as a sensitive tooth, gum bleeding or gum tenderness.

How do you prevent these dental problems? Keep your blood sugar levels well-controlled every day.  Stop cigarette smoking. If you wear dentures, be sure to take them out and clean your mouth daily. Clean the dentures thoroughly before putting them back into your mouth. Abnormal blood glucose levels can cause problems such as thrush. That's why checking your blood sugar regularly and taking your diabetes medication is important. If you are unsure how to maintain blood sugar control, talk to your doctor or diabetes educator. If you notice dental problems, call your dentist so you can get treatment when it is most effective. Waiting to see the dentist for treatment of gum disease or tooth decay may result in worsening of the dental problem and the need for more invasive treatment.

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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.