Diabetes and Oral Care:
Diabetes affects oral care far more than most people realize. How you manage your blood sugar has a direct impact on the health of your gums, teeth and mouth. Let’s take a closer look at why oral care is so important if you have diabetes.
The Link Between Diabetes and Gum Disease
Research has shown that people with diabetes are at greater risk for serious gum disease than those without diabetes. Why? Because high blood sugar levels can make you more susceptible to bacterial infections. These infections in turn make it more difficult to manage your blood sugar. So, once you develop gum disease it can be a difficult condition to control because infections tend to heal more slowly in people with diabetes.
Symptoms of an oral infection include:
- Swelling or pus around your teeth or gums
- Sensitivity to cold, hot, or sweet foods
- Pain in the mouth when chewing, or pain that doesn’t subside
Preventing Dental Problems Associated With Diabetes
- Your top priority: good blood sugar control. High levels of sugar in the blood create a higher than normal concentration of sugar in your saliva. This can more rapidly cause infection and tooth decay.
- Brush at least twice a day. Use a brush with soft bristles and angle the brush against the gum line using a soft, circular motion. Don’t forget to brush the back side of your teeth as well.
- Brush the surface of your tongue each time you brush your teeth to remove germs.
- Floss your teeth at least once a day. Use a gentle sawing motion to get floss between your teeth. Scrape the floss up and down against each tooth to remove plaque.
- Replace your toothbrush about every 3-4 months.
- Wait until your blood sugar levels are acceptable before having non-emergency dental work. Your mouth will heal more quickly and you will be less likely to develop an infection.
Diabetes and Oral Health Problems. American Diabetes Association. Accessed May 7, 2010. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/oral-health-and-hygiene/diabetes-and-oral.html
More on the Mouth. American Diabetes Association. Accessed May 7, 2010. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/oral-health-and-hygiene/more-on-the-mouth.html