Most of us know that we should brush and floss our teeth every day. But if you have diabetes, you may not realize just how important it is to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Diabetes can affect every system in your body, including the heart, nerves, kidneys, and eyes. Did you know that diabetes can affect your oral health, as well? Here are some tips to keep your mouth–and your diabetes control–in top shape.
Gum disease and diabetes A two-way street. If your blood glucose is not well controlled, you may risk serious dental problems, like tooth loss and gum disease. Keep in mind that having a gum infection, such as gingivitis or periodontitis, can make it harder to keep your blood glucose levels within a safe range.
Talk to your dentist about your diabetes. Your doctor may care about your overall health, but a dentist should also be a member of your diabetes care team. He or she can help ensure that your teeth and gums stay as healthy as possible. Remind your dentist at every visit that you have diabetes.
Know the signs of dental problems. Red and swollen gums, bad breath, and bleeding gums are signs of a possible gum infection. However, you can also get other dental problems, like yeast infections, dry mouth, bad breath, ulcers, and cavities. You’re more prone to these problems when your blood glucose levels are high. See your dentist if you have any of these symptoms.
Keep up with dental checkups. Get a dental exam and cleanings at least twice each year, or as often as recommended by your dentist.
Get into the habit of brushing and flossing. Diabetes experts recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day, and flossing once a day. Allow at least three minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Flossing helps to clean below the gum line and reaches the spaces between the teeth that your brush can’t reach. Your dentist or dental hygienist can show you how to properly care for your teeth and gums.
If you smoke, make a plan to stop. Smoking can raise your risk for gum disease, as well as many other health problems. Talk with your healthcare provider about the best ways to stop smoking.
Manage your diabetes. It’s not always easy, but try your best to keep your blood glucose and A1C levels within a healthy range. Doing so can lower your risk for many diabetes complications, including gum disease.