How Diabetes Affects Your Child’s Oral Health

July 3, 2019 Mitten Kids Dentistry

Diabetes Pediatric Dentists Grand Rapids, MI

About 15% of Americans living with type 1 diabetes are children, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

However, more and more children also are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. If you suspect your child has diabetes, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with their primary care provider as soon as possible.

If your child has already been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to ask our pediatric dentists about how it’ll affect their oral health.

Diabetes & Your Child’s Dental Health

Tooth Decay

A common symptom of diabetes is excessive thirst. However, even after your child is diagnosed, you’ll need to make sure they’re drinking enough water to stay hydrated. While it may seem weird to think about, your child needs saliva to wash plaque and food particles off teeth. If your child has chronic dry mouth, they won’t be able to wash away plaque that causes tooth decay and gingivitis.

Dry mouth not only increases your child’s risk of cavities but aggravates the side effects of diabetes. If your child is prone to dry mouth, tuck a water bottle in their backpack that they can use at school. Our dentists will also be able to remove plaque from teeth during their dental cleaning.

Gum Disease

Does your child complain of bleeding or sore gums? Studies have shown a link between poor blood sugar control and an increased risk of gum disease. Gum disease is an infection caused by untreated plaque buildup. Diabetes can increase your risk for gum disease by flooding the mouth with enough glucose to help the bacteria found in plaque thrive.

How can I help protect my child’s oral health?

Your child’s oral health is connected to their overall health. This means that the sooner your child can control blood sugar levels, the sooner their oral health will improve. Once your child sees their primary care physician, your next call should be to one of our dentists.

A teeth cleaning every 6 months will remove plaque and tartar buildup, reducing their risk for gum disease. A dental cleaning will also give your child’s dentist the opportunity to catch small oral health issues before they worsen. 

For example, our dentists can start gingivitis treatment at the first sign of gum disease. Our doctors may also recommend a fluoride treatment to strengthen tooth enamel. 

At home, make sure that your child brushes teeth twice a day and flosses once daily. Brushing teeth is one of the best ways your child can protect their teeth and gums from plaque buildup. Flossing will also ensure that your child removes plaque hiding in between teeth and along the gum line.

Dental Sealants

If your child doesn’t brush their teeth thoroughly enough, dental sealants are a great way to help protect your child’s teeth. Sealants are a clear plastic coating that is brushed onto the back teeth (also known as molars) to seal them off from food particles and bacteria.

It may be difficult for your child to reach those back teeth and all their ridges. It’s possible your child may neglect brushing altogether which enables bacteria to flourish causing plaque and cavities. Dental sealants provide an extra layer of protection. 

It also may help to sing a song or play music. Most dentists say that you should brush your teeth for about 2 minutes to remove plaque. Anything that is playful or entertaining that distracts them while brushing their teeth could help them enjoy brushing their teeth more.

Schedule an Appointment

Our dental team is dedicated to helping your child maintain good oral health. To schedule an appointment with our Grand Rapids pediatric dentists, call Mitten Kids Dentistry at (616) 942-9840.

Related Blog Posts

How Do Sugary Foods and Drinks Cause Cavities

How to Remove Dental Plaque from Teeth

3 Benefits of Dental Sealants for Children

This blog post has been updated.

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