As of date, there are over 25 million Americans with diabetes. There are many medical complications associated with diabetes, including heart disease, possible blindness, nerve damage, kidney issues and problems with your teeth and gums.
Good oral cleaning habits are important for everyone, but more so for individuals that have diabetes, because if blood glucose levels are not properly controlled – then cavities, oral fungal infections (known as “thrush”), and other oral problems can manifest quickly.
Xerostomia (dry mouth syndrome) is a common oral disorder among diabetics. When enough saliva is not produced then bacteria thrives, causing gums to become inflamed and teeth more susceptible to decay.
Once you have your blood sugar levels consistently under control, follow the steps outlined below to maintain optimum oral care.
Steps to take for good oral hygiene:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day (morning and evening).
- Floss your teeth regularly to remove food particles that can get stuck between teeth.
- Use an antibacterial mouth rinse, as it helps remove bacteria that can cause buildup of plaque.
- Have your teeth professionally cleaned at least twice a year.
- Inform your dentist and oral hygienist that you have been diagnosed with diabetes, and provide them with a list of all prescription and non-prescription drugs that you are taking.
If your gums bleed or oral problems worsen over time, your dentist may refer you to periodontist (a dentist who specialized in gum disease).
When blood sugar levels are not properly and consistently controlled, oral conditions, such as serious diseases of the gums (as well as teeth loss), are more prevalent in diabetics than in individuals that are not diabetic.
Gum disease/infections may cause blood glucose levels to fluctuate, and in turn, make controlling diabetes more challenging. A few ways to avoid serious dental/oral problems associated with diabetes include:
- Control blood sugar levels as much as possible.
- Examine your teeth and gums daily for swelling and/or bleeding.
- Cut down or better yet, quit smoking, as this habit may increase your chances of contracting oral fungal infections and other possibly cancers associated with the mouth.
- Dentures should be thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis.
- Maintain steady and healthy blood sugar levels, as this may relieve (and possibly prevent) dry mouth symptoms caused by improperly controlled blood sugar levels.
Americans with diabetes (close to 26 million) may be surprised to know, that serious gum disease is added to the list of complications that are associated with diabetes.