If you have diabetes, are you at risk for dental problems?

People with diabetes have a greater risk of developing gum (periodontal) disease, tooth decay, fungal infection and other problems with oral (mouth) health.

"Serious gum disease may also have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes. It is therefore important for you to start and maintain a regular dental care routine," says Dr Bee Yong Mong, Head, SingHealth Duke-NUS Diabetes Centre, and Senior Consultant at the Department of Endocrinology, Singapore General Hosp​ital​ (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.

How to help prevent dental problems associated with diabetes

You can make sure your mouth stays healthy and pain-free with these simple steps:

  • Control your blood glucose levels

    First and foremost, control your blood glucose levels. Those with poorly-controlled blood glucose levels are more likely to develop gum disease and can lose more teeth than someone whose diabetes is well-controlled. Good blood glucose control can also help prevent or relieve dry mouth caused by diabetes.
  • Brush and floss regularly

    • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and replace it every 3 months.
    • Brush for at least 3 minutes with fluoride toothpaste.
    • Brush at least 2 times a day after each meal if you can.
    • Floss at least once a day.
  • Visit a dental professional

    • Have your teeth checked by the dentist at least once a year.
    • Inform the dentist you have diabetes, how your glucose control is, and the medications you are taking.
  • Alert your dentist or doctor if you notice any of the following:

    • Bleeding, red or sore gums
    • Gums that are pulling away from teeth
    • Bad breath for a long period of time
    • Loose or separating adult teeth
    • A change in the way you bite
    • Any mouth pain

    See previous page to read about diabetic foot complications and how to take care of your feet.

    Read the next page for information on recommended health screening for people with diabetes​.

    Ref: O17