• Dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • Cavities (tooth decay)
  • Bleeding gums and gum disease
  • Bad breath

If you, or someone you know, has diabetes you may already be aware that diabetes puts you at greater risk of gum disease and oral health problems. Less well-known is that periodontitis can increase your risk of diabetes and make it harder for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar.

The dentist may not be the first medical professional you’d associate with diabetes but – because of the powerful bi-directional link between diabetes and oral health – proactive oral care is extra important. An effective oral hygiene routine can help reduce your risk of developing diabetes and help you live well if you have the condition.


Diabetes, also known as sugar or blood sugar, is a condition that affects the body’s ability to process sugar. There are two types – type 1 and the more common diabetes type 2. Cases have risen dramatically in recent years all over the world. According to experts, it is the most common cause of death in women and second for men in South Africa, where an estimated 12.9% of the adult population have diabetes. According to the International Diabetes Federation, a vast number of people with diabetes are undiagnosed.


Gum disease is even more common, affecting about 90% of people at some point in their lives. Gum disease occurs when dental plaque, a sticky bacteria-laden biofilm, builds up on the teeth and gums, causing irritation. The gums become inflamed, red and swollen. They may bleed when brushing or flossing,

Early gum disease, known as gingivitis, can be prevented with an effective daily oral hygiene routine to remove any plaque build-up. If not treated, gingivitis becomes periodontitis, where plaque below the gum line causes severe inflammation and eventually tooth loss.


There is a well-established two-way relationship between diabetes and oral health. Diabetes affects the body’s ability to process sugar; higher glucose levels in your saliva put you at higher risk of bleeding gums, cavities, gum disease and bad breath.

In addition to the sugar issue, an estimated 42% of people with diabetes experience dry mouth, medically known as xerostomia, which is another risk factor for several dental health issues.

People with diabetes can also tend to have a lower resistance to infection and heal more slowly, which can also further exacerbate gum problems.

At the same time, people with gum disease have been shown to have poorer blood sugar control and are at higher risk of various diabetes-related complications as a result. People with periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease, are also more likely to become type 2 diabetic.


Regular visits to the dentist and effective oral care will help you live healthier with diabetes. Once you are diagnosed, schedule a dental appointment right away. Let them know about your diagnosis and continue to go for regular check-ups which enable your dental team to detect any problems early.

A professional cleaning done by the oral hygienist at least every six months is recommended. This will help keep your mouth in tip-top shape, removing plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) that can’t be removed by brushing at home.

Likewise, keep your doctor informed of your oral health status, especially if you require oral surgery. If your diabetes is not under control, periodontal surgery and implant therapy should be delayed until glycaemic control is achieved.


A meticulous daily oral care routine is the best way to prevent most oral health problems and is even more important if you have diabetes. Here’s an easy-to-follow routine to help children and adults with diabetes protect their oral health and general well-being. A healthy mouth can be as simple as 1, 2, 3.

1) Brush

  • Brush correctly at least twice a day for a full two minutes each time, right up to the gum line.
  • Use a soft brush that will be gentler and cleans more effectively.
  • A quality electric toothbrush or GUM Sonic Daily – will give a ‘supreme clean’ with minimum effort.
  • Use mild toothpaste or go for an ultra-natural option like Olgani Naturals.

2) Clean in-between

  • Floss or clean in-between the teeth daily.
  • If you find floss too challenging, try an interdental brush or Sunstar GUM Soft-Picks.
  • Not sure which to use? Ask your oral hygienist, they would love to help you.

3) Rinse

  • After eating and before bed rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash like Dentyl Active, Thryve or Olgani, alcohol will further dry out the mouth.


Over 40% of people with diabetes experience dry mouth or xerostomia. A dry mouth can make it difficult to swallow and even talk. Because saliva is the body’s way of keeping the mouth clean, plaque and bacteria build up more quickly, and you are at higher risk of bleeding gums, bad breath and dental decay.

Rehydrating the mouth is the number one priority. Drinking water will give temporary relief and chewing gum can stimulate saliva flow. Some medications help produce saliva and products like Sunstar GUM Hydral have been designed specifically to moisturise and lubricate oral tissues.

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The information provided on this website is intended for general informational purposes only. It should not be construed as medical advice or used as a substitute for professional medical diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, oral hygienist or another healthcare provider regarding your oral health or other medical conditions. Reliance on information provided on this website is solely at your own risk.


GUM Soft-Picks Comfort Flex Medium

GUM Soft-Picks Comfort Flex with Cool Mint are flexible and gentle interdental picks with 75+ soft rubber bristles and a cool mint flavour that makes cleaning in-between the teeth a breeze. Features
  • Fresh, cool mint flavour
  • Bendy, flexible neck for comfort and control
  • Easy to reach all the teeth from any angle
  • Gentle and safe to use, even for sensitive gums
  • 75 + soft rubber bristles that effectively remove plaque and food from between the teeth and gently massage the gums
  • A soft easy-grip handle
  • Latex, wood, and metal-free
  • Convenient travel case included in every pack for on-the-go use
  • Ideal for cleaning small and narrow interdental spaces, around orthodontic braces and bridges
  • Recommended by dental professionals
Who is it for? Everyone! All adults and children including those with tight spaces between the teeth; orthodontic braces; sensitive gums or bridges. Professionals: oral hygienists, general dentists, orthodontists, periodontists, implantologists

GUM Trav-Lers

GUM Trav-lers are reusable interdental brushes that easily clean in-between the teeth and around dental appliances where your toothbrush can’t reach. With special anti-bacterial bristles for superior plaque removal and an ergonomic handle, they are ideal for everyone – especially adults and children with wide gaps between the teeth, orthodontic braces, sensitive or bleeding gums, implants or bridges. GUM Trav-lers are easier to use than floss and can be more effective. 0.6mm - Lavender 0.8mm - Red 0.9mm - Orange 1.1mm - Green 1.2mm - Purple 1.3mm - Yellow 1.4mm - Pink 1.6mm - Blue 2.0mm - Grey Features
  • Antibacterial Chlorhexidine-coated bristles ensure that no bacteria is reintroduced into the mouth when reusing the Trav-ler. 
  • Proprietary triangular bristles remove 25% more plaque than standard bristles.
  • Bendable, flexible neck helps you reach everywhere, even the back teeth
  • Long-lasting, use for up to 1 week
  • Ergonomic, non-slip handle
  • Protective cap for on-the-go use
  • Available in 10 sizes
  • Recommended by dental professionals
Who is it for?
  • Everyone, especially adults and children with wide gaps between the teeth, food traps, orthodontic braces; sensitive or bleeding gums; implants or bridges
  • Professionals: oral hygienists, orthodontists, periodontists, implantologists

GUM Sonic Daily Toothbrush Soft Compact

Add power to your daily oral care routine with the new Sunstar GUM Sonic Daily Battery Toothbrush – the sleekest sonic brush on the market. The advanced ergonomic handle and slender neck absorbs any excess pressure, for a gentle, but thorough brushing experience.
  • Superior cleaning for the entire family for optimal care of teeth and gums.
  • Scientifically proven superior efficacy. Its soft tapered bristles remove up to 50% more plaque between the teeth than a manual brush and it reaches deeper below the gumline.
  • Gentle sonic vibration that stimulate the gums.
  • Use it as you would use a manual brush while enjoying the extra vibrating power for a deep, yet gentle clean.
  • Design & functionality. Sleek and stylish, with a replaceable head and batteries – great for travel and use at home.
  • Battery included. (Battery lasts 3 months). 
  • Replaceable heads (recommended every 3 months).​
  • Recommended by dental professionals

GUM Hydral Gel 50ml

Thirsting for relief from dry mouth? Sunstar GUM Hydral Moisturising Gel helps hydrate, soothe and protect. Made especially for sensitive mouths, Hydral is easy to apply and does not contain alcohol or common irritants, providing long lasting lubrication and relief. GUM Hydral contains Betaine, Taurine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium citrate and PVP, to moisturise, protect, soothe and promote repair. Designed for sensitive oral tissue, Hydral does not contain alcohol, parabens, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), glycerine, glucose, limonene or linalool. The low allergen spearmint flavour is the preferred choice of dry mouth sufferers. Sunstar GUM Hydral Moisturising Gel is ideal to use before bed and can be applied as often as required during the day.