Kids and diabetes: Take extra care to protect their teeth and gums

2014-01-13 12:00:02 by Janet Haas, RN, CDE, as posted on the inside.akronchildrens.org blog.

Children and teens with diabetes are at greater risk for gum disease. Children and teens with diabetes are at greater risk for gum disease.

Did you know high levels of sugar in the saliva of kids with diabetes puts them at greater risk for problems with their teeth, gums and mouth?

Diabetes can contribute to bacteria growth in the mouth, plaque build-up and gum disease, while also weakening the bodyís ability to fight back.

To protect your childís teeth and gums, the best defense is to:


  • Control blood glucose levels

  • Eat a diet† rich in calcium and vitamin D to ensure strong bones and teeth

  • Follow a regular oral health routine

  • Get regular dental check-ups


Daily care:

  • Establish a twice-a-day tooth-brushing habit Ė morning and night with a soft to medium bristle toothbrush

  • Get a new toothbrush every 3 months

  • Use fluoride toothpaste

  • Floss every day to remove food that gets stuck between the teeth


For babies:

  • Donít put your baby to bed or down for a nap with a bottle

  • Gently clean her gums with a soft wash cloth after each meal

  • Use a soft-bristle toothbrush when his teeth start to come in


Visiting the dentist:

  • Get a checkup every 6 months, starting at age 2 or after your childís teeth appear


Before your childís first check-up:

  • Schedule a meeting to ensure the visit is a positive experience.

  • Let the dentist know about your childís condition. On future visits, let the dentist know about any changes to her health or medications.

  • If youíre concerned, ask your doctor to recommend a dentist who specializes in kids.

  • Talk to your dentist about fluoride to support strong teeth. Options include fluoridated water, toothpaste, mouth wash, tablets and treatments. Remember that well water and most bottled waters donít have fluoride in them.

  • Talk to your dentist about sealants for your childís permanent teeth.


Children and teens with diabetes are at greater risk for gum disease. Call your dentist if your child shows any of these warning signs:

  • A toothache

  • Red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums


Itís important for kids with diabetes to establish early on the habits that will help keep them healthy throughout their lifetimes. This includes controlling their blood sugar levels and taking good care of their teeth.

For more information, check out this list of†frequently-asked questions†on oral health and hygiene from the American Diabetes Association.




Janet Haas is a registered nurse, certified diabetes educator and diabetes program coordinator for Akron Childrenís Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology.

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