Diabetes and Oral Health

Did you know that people with diabetes who have irregular blood glucose levels are at a higher risk of dental issues?

This is caused by the lowered resistance to infection and the body’s inability to heal as quickly.

If you are living with diabetes, you need to pay particular attention to your oral health and dental care. You need to visit your dentist regularly for advice about how to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

4 Signs You May Have a Problem

Diabetes puts you at risk for dental problems. It impairs the ability to fight bacteria in your mouth. Having high blood sugar encourages bacteria to grow and contributes to gum disease. You may have gum disease if you have:

• Gums that are red, sore, bleeding or swollen or that pull away from your teeth
• Loose teeth
• Chronic bad breath
• An irregular bite or dentures that don’t fit well

Control Diabetes to Keep Your Smile

Well-controlled diabetes contributes to a healthy mouth. If you have poorly controlled or high blood sugar, your risk increases for dry mouth, gum disease, tooth loss, and fungal infections like thrush. Since infections can also make blood sugar rise, your diabetes may become even harder to control. Keeping your mouth healthy can help you manage your blood sugar.

See Your Dentist Regularly

People with diabetes are prone to oral infections. You should get dental check-ups at least twice a year. Let your dentist know you have diabetes and what medicines you take. Regular check-ups and professional cleanings can help keep a mouth healthy. And a dentist can teach you the best ways to care for your teeth and gums at home.

Keep Plaque at Bay

Sticky plaque – food, saliva, and bacteria – starts to form on your teeth after you eat, releasing acids that attack tooth enamel. Untreated plaque turns into tartar, which builds under gum lines and is hard to remove with flossing. The longer it stays on your teeth, the more harmful it is. Bacteria in plaque causes inflammation and leads to gum disease. Having high blood sugar often makes gum disease worse.

Brush Daily, Brush Right

Brushing your teeth twice a day not only keeps your breath sweet but also helps rid the mouth of bacteria that make up plaque and can lead to oral infections. To brush properly, point bristles at a 45-degree angle against the gums. Use gentle back-and-forth strokes all over your teeth — in front, in the back, and on chewing surfaces — for two minutes. If holding a toothbrush is hard for you, try an electric toothbrush. Also, brush your gums and tongue.

Floss Every Day

Flossing helps control plaque. It can reach where a toothbrush can’t, like between the teeth. Floss daily with floss and interdental cleaners. Ask your dentist for tips if you’re not sure how to floss. Like everything else, flossing gets easier with practice. Take Care of Your Dentures. Loose-fitting or poorly maintained dentures can lead to gum irritation, sores, and infections. It’s important to talk to your dentist about any changes in the fit of your dentures. When you have diabetes, you are at a higher risk of fungal infections like thrush and mouth sores that are tough to heal. And poorly maintained dentures can contribute to thrush, too. It’s important to remove and clean dentures daily to help reduce your risk of infection.

Toss the Tobacco

Tobacco products — including cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and pipes — are bad for anyone’s mouth. But if you have diabetes and you smoke, you are at even greater risk of developing gum disease. Tobacco can damage gum tissue and cause receding gums. It can also speed up bone and tissue loss, leading to loss of teeth. Motivate yourself to quit. List your reasons for quitting, set a date, and get the support of family and friends.

Prepare for Oral Surgery

Well-controlled blood sugar reduces your risk of infection and speeds healing. If you need oral surgery, tell your dentist and surgeon you have diabetes beforehand. Your doctor may recommend that you wait to have surgery until your blood sugars are under control.

4 Steps to Protect Your Health

The same steps that ensure a healthy mouth also help you manage diabetes.

• Eat a healthy diet.
• Don’t smoke.
• Keep up with your diabetes medications.
• See your dentist regularly to reduce the risk of developing a serious problem.

Know the Warning Signs

Regular dental check-ups are important because your dentist can spot gum disease even when you don’t have any pain or symptoms. But you should examine your teeth and gums yourself for early signs of trouble. Infections can move fast. If you notice redness, swelling, bleeding, loose teeth, dry mouth, pain, or any other oral symptoms that worry you, talk to your dentist right away.

For more information on diabetes and oral health, please do not hesitate to contact DentalCareXtra. Alternatively, complete the form below, and one of our friendly team members will contact you.