Diet, diabetes and tooth decay

If you are one of the 1.7 million Australians with diabetes, you may be aware that this disease can complicate a host of problems with your eyes, ear blood vessels, nerves, kidneys and heart.

What you may not know is people with diabetes who have irregular blood glucose levels also have a higher risk of tooth problems and gum disease than people without diabetes. This is due to the fact that they have a lowered resistance to infection and may not heal as easily.

The most common oral health problems which can affect people with diabetes are:

  • periodontal (gum) disease
  • lichen planus (an inflammatory, autoimmune skin condition)
  • mouth ulcers
  • taste insensitivities
  • gum abscesses
  • tooth decay
  • fungal infections
  • a dry, burning mouth (low saliva levels)

Diet and tooth decay

Teeth are covered with plaque, a soft, sticky film that builds up on your teeth and contains millions of tiny bacteria. The bacteria in plaque cause tooth decay and gum disease if not removed regularly through brushing and flossing. Repeated attacks can cause the enamel to break down and can eventually result in cavities. It’s important for people with diabetes to control their high glucose levels in saliva as this can help bacteria and plaque thrive. Bigger problems arise, however, if plaque stays on your teeth and hardens into tartar. Tartar, also known as calculus forms, above and below the gum line. Tartar makes cleaning your teeth more difficult. It’s rough and porous in texture and if not treated properly can create conditions that lead to chronic inflammation and infection in the mouth.


Diabetes lowers your resistance to infection and can slow the healing process. To have it removed properly you best make an appointment with your dentist at Habberfield Dental Practice as tartar can only be removed using specific tools which are found in the dentist’s office.

What you can do

  • Cut down on sugar and starches from your diet and eat healthier foods
  • Make sure you keep track of blood sugar levels
  • Make sure you brush at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and clean once a day with floss so that you get between your teeth to remove plaque
  • Treat any dental infections immediately
  • Drink plenty of water and if possible chew a sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production and avoid having a dry mouth
  • Quit smoking

Make sure you visit Haberfield Dental Practice for advice about proper home care, early intervention and preventative maintenance.

Diabetics who combine good dental care with insulin control typically have a better chance of avoiding gum disease. As people with diabetes have a higher risk of tooth and gum problems it is important to look after your oral health and control your blood glucose levels to prevent gum disease.

Please book a time to visit our friendly team at Habberfield Dental Practice today for further advice about how to keep your teeth and gums healthy.



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