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Oral Health Challenges for Parents of Kids Living with Type 1 Diabetes

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With approximately 15,000 children in the US being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes every day, parents may not be as well informed of the challenges they may face regarding their child's smile.

As oral health professionals, our conversation with parents may begin with monitoring their child?s oral hygiene habits, which may include noticing when their gums are inflamed. Share that high blood glucose levels encourage the growth of bacteria that are associated with gingivitis and gum disease.

The risks of kids not brushing or flossing effectively can range from weakened enamel, caries, gingivitis, gum disease, and bad breath resulting from the abundance of plaque or food debris on teeth, gums, and tongue. If that happens, kids who are in school or enjoy other activities may encounter social awkwardness from one or all of the previous mentioned results.

Parents can introduce oral hygiene routines early and make it a fun habit with the following product choices:

Arm & Hammer?s Spinbrush Kids Line

Ashtel Dental?s Brush Buddies

OralWise?s GumChucks

Philips? AirFloss

Sunstar Americas? GUM Crayola Flossers

Water Pik?s Waterpik Waterflosser for Kids

Recognize that each child?s dexterity and ability to effectively remove plaque will vary. This tip will guide you to your best selection!

Those who live with diabetes may also experience dry mouth. Explain to parents how teeth may be more susceptible to decay or sensitivity. Eating can be uncomfortable as digestion begins in our mouth. Gums and soft tissue may become irritated from lack of moisture, become inflamed, red, and painful. Cracking or chapping of the lips may also be a result. Salivary replacements or products with xylitol are a great option (such as Biotene, Spry, and Xylipops).

Additional oral health risks to mention to parents are the possible discoloration of teeth from certain medications, ulcers/sores, oral and fungal infections, and poor healing. 

After attending the Diabetes Educators Association event earlier this fall, it is remarkably clear that the challenges to connecting oral health, diabetes, and total health are an often-missed conversation for adults, let alone parents of young adults. It would be great to finally unite both professions and break the silence of how living with diabetes will indeed impact your oral health.

Our role as educators is a privilege that should not be overpromised or under delivered.

Anastasia challenges dental professionals to continually raise the standard of patient care. She is an author in several dental industry publications and is published as an oral health source for numerous online consumer-based sites. Her weekly video blog on YouTube; Anastasia's Hump Day Happenings answers questions from the general public on oral health topics. She  connects with dental professionals on her Facebook page as well. Anastasia is a spokesperson, independent consultant, working with several companies to develop website content, social media presence, continuing education programs and in-office training for dental hygiene departments on product integration with team communication.

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