Diabetes and dental caries: how to support your patients with diabetes

Diabetes and dental caries: How to support your patients with diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is considered the most common health issue affecting almost one in 11 adults worldwide.

According to Diabetes UK the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has more than doubled in the last twenty years with over 3.9 million people living with a diagnosis of diabetes.

In addition, it is predicted that almost a million people are living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disorder classified into two types:

Diabetes is a condition where the body either fails to produce insulin (type 1 diabetes) or the insulin that is produced is no longer as effective (type 2 diabetes).

Type 1 diabetes

  • Insulin dependent: An autoimmune disease (insulin deficiency)
  • 10% of all diabetes cases.

Type 2 diabetes

  • Non-insulin dependent (relative lack of insulin)
  • 90% of all diabetes cases.

Diabetic patients are known to be at higher risk for dental caries.

There are several factors which increase the risk of dental caries:

  • High HbA1c value leading to a change in oral biofilm
  • Reduced saliva pH
  • Reduced saliva secretion
  • Frequent snacking
  • Diet rich in refined carbohydrates.

Assessing your diabetic patients’ caries risk

Holistic patient care is based on early detection of dental diseases. Therefore, an assessment of your patients’ caries risk should focus on maintaining health and preserving tooth structure. You may consider following the 4D principles from Caries Care International:

  • Determine your patient’s caries risk by combining the patient’s general risk factors and intraoral risk factors
  • Detect and assess caries staging and activity
  • Decide your patient’s caries risk status/ likelihood for new caries lesions to develop or current to progress
  • Do a personal caries risk management plan by partnering up with your patient.

Supporting your diabetic patients

Caries risk management for diabetic patients should focus on three areas:

Oral hygiene

  • Instruction in extra thorough plaque removal – due to risk of cariogenic plaque
  • Depending on the fluoride level prescribed, advise brush two or three times daily.

Diet advice

  • Reduce sugar intake
  • Reduce snacking
  • Use sugar free chewing gum.


  • Increase fluoride availability
  • Apply fluoride varnish two or more times per year
  • Consider prescribing 2,800 or 5,000 ppm fluoride toothpaste.

Colgate Duraphat high fluoride toothpastes are clinically proven to be more effective than a regular toothpaste in preventing dental caries:

Duraphat 2800 ppm F-

  • 2800 ppm fluoride toothpaste provides 20% reduction in DMFS increment
  • For the prevention and treatment of caries in patients aged 10 years and over
  • For 2x daily use instead of regular toothpaste.

Duraphat 5000 ppm F-

  • 5000 ppm Fluoride Toothpaste prevents cavities by arresting and reversing primary root and early fissure caries lesions
  • Indicated for the prevention of dental caries, particularly amongst patients at risk from multiple caries aged 16 years and over
  • For 3x daily use instead of regular toothpaste.

Consider prescribing Colgate Duraphat toothpaste to your diabetic patients at increased caries risk, helping them to control their caries risk and in turn enhance their quality of life. Click here to find out more.

For references email [email protected].

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