A guideline for dental care and diabetes

November 12, 2014

Diabetics are at greater risk of gum disease, infection and tooth loss. That's why good dental care is a must for anyone with the condition. What preventative steps can be taken?

A guideline for dental care and diabetes

When it comes to oral health, diabetes is not a sweet condition to have. However, with proper dental care and management of sugar levels, diabetics can enjoy a lifetime of sweet smiles.

In contrast, without strict attention to a dental routine, the other side to having this condition is that diabetics are at greater risk of periodontal (gum) disease, which can lead to painful chewing problems and even tooth loss. What's more, other health issues such as dry mouth (lack of saliva), a fungal infection called thrush, and an increased chance of tooth decay come into play.

Make sure life isn’t too sweet

One aspect of dental health is to control blood sugar levels.

  • High glucose levels can help plaque and then tartar to thrive on teeth.
  • Diabetes can also reduce the body's resistance to infection, which may affect the gums with chronic inflammation and infection.

Signs of trouble

If you encounter any of the following symptoms arrange to see your dentist, pronto!

  • Bleeding gums
  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Gums pulling away from the teeth
  • Adult teeth that are becoming loose or separating
  • Persistent bad breath

It’s also possible to have gum disease without these warning sign. In fact, you might exhibit different symptoms altogether. That’s why it’s important to have regular dental checkups.

Tips to manage your oral health

The best way to help prevent dental problems is to manage your diabetes properly. As such, you should carefully track your blood sugar levels and follow your doctor's instructions for keeping this level within your target range. That includes taking insulin or other medications.

In addition, you should:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
  • Use an electric toothbrush if you have arthritis or some other condition that prevents you from brushing well.
  • Floss at least once a day, removing plaque from between teeth and under the gum line.
  • Schedule dental cleanings at least twice a year.
  • Make sure your dentist knows that you have diabetes, giving them the contact information for your doctor.
  • Not smoke, since smoking increases the risk of serious diabetes complications, including gum disease.

It goes without saying that good oral hygiene is a must, especially if you have diabetes. A bit of diligence and regular proper dental care is sometimes all it takes to help prevent some of the oral health issues associated with having this condition.

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