How Diabetes Affects Your Oral Health

There are more bacteria in your mouth right now than there are people on Earth. If those germs settle into your gums, you've got gum disease. Unfortunately, if you have diabetes, you are at higher risk for gum problems because poor blood glucose control makes gum problems more likely.

The good news? Prevention is in your hands. Learn what you're up against, and then take charge of your dental health. Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, managing your blood sugar level is key. The higher your blood sugar level, the higher your risk of tooth decay {cavities}, early gum disease (gingivitis) and advanced gum disease (periodontitis). To help prevent damage to your teeth and gums, take diabetes and dental care seriously:

Make a commitment to manage your diabetes. Monitor your blood sugar level, and follow your doctor's instructions for keeping your blood sugar level within your target range.

Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Brush in the morning, at night and, ideally, after meals and snacks. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste that contains fluoride. Get a new toothbrush at least every three months.

Floss your teeth at least once a day. Flossing helps remove plaque between your teeth and under your gum line. If you have trouble getting floss through your teeth, use the waxed variety. If it's hard to manipulate the floss, use a floss holder.

Schedule regular dental visits. Visit your dentist at least twice a year for professional cleanings and checkups.

Make sure your dentist knows you have diabetes. Every time you visit your dentist, remind him or her that you have diabetes.

Look for early signs of gum disease. Report any signs of gum disease — including redness, swelling and bleeding gums — to your dentist. Also mention any other signs and symptoms, such as dry mouth, loose teeth or mouth pain.

Don't smoke. Smoking increases the risk of serious diabetes complications, including gum disease. Bottom line: watch for signs and symptoms of oral disease and contact your SEDA dental office immediately when a problem arises. Practice good oral hygiene at home, follow your physician’s instructions regarding diet and medications and schedule regular dental checkups. Your efforts will be rewarded with a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

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