Diabetes and your Oral Health


Diabetes affects over 415,000,000 people worldwide. Almost half of these people are unaware they have diabetes. In the absence of a register of people who have diabetes, no-one can be entirely sure how many people in Ireland live with diabetes.

There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes affects your body’s ability to control sugar levels in your blood. Much of the food you eat, especially carbohydrates, is converted into sugar and used for energy. In Type 1 diabetes, the body produces no insulin, a hormone that carries sugar from your blood to the cells that need it for energy. In Type 2 diabetes, not enough insulin is produced by the pancreas or else the body’s cells fail to react to insulin. Both cases result in high circulating blood sugar levels, which cause problems throughout the body including in the major organs. Key to the damage caused is failure of tiny blood vessels to form properly throughout the body.

Uncontrolled diabetes where the level of sugar circulating in the blood is higher than normal causes damage throughout the body including the eyes, kidneys, heart, liver, nerves, blood vessels, immune system and the skin, but “how does it affect my mouth”, you ask?

Diabetes can cause;

  • Dry Mouth,
  • Burning Mouth,
  • Oral Thrush
  • Contribute to Periodontal (gum) disease.
  • Gestational diabetes (occurs during pregnancy and usually resolves once your child is born).

Good oral health habits can help prevent pain and infections from tooth and gum disease. If you have Diabetes, taking care of your teeth and gums is even more important.

Important oral health tips for Diabetes

  • Brush teeth and gum twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss your teeth or use an interdental cleaner once a day.
  • Keep your dentist informed about your diabetes.
  • If your gums are red, swollen, or bleed easily see your dentist as these maybe signs of gum disease. Other signs include dry mouth, loose teeth, or mouth pain.
  • If you smoke, quit. Smoking increases your risk of gum disease and can worsen your diabetes.

There is a two-way relationship between gum disease and diabetes. Gum disease can be more severe and take longer to heal if you have diabetes and if you have gum disease your diabetes may also be harder to manage. Treating your gum disease may help to lower your blood sugar over time. Carefully follow your diabetes schedule. Keep regular dental visits for professional cleanings, x-rays and checkups.

Additional Cleaning for People with Diabetes

Managing Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes requires comprehensive care. Good oral hygiene can positively impact your diabetes management and good diabetes management has a positive impact on your gum health. That’s why DeCare is offering an extra gum health cleaning for individuals with diabetes*. These cleanings not only enhance oral health but also contribute to better blood sugar control, fostering overall health and wellbeing.

Activate your benefit today

*(Available on TeamCare Level 3/3+ only)