Diabetes can lead to many complications, some of them very severe. This means that the effect that diabetes has on your teeth can often be completely overlooked. Diabetics are at a higher risk for periodontal disease (diseases of the mouth) than most people.
Having high blood sugar means that your teeth and gums are at a higher risk, because germs multiply in high-sugar environments. This means that the first step to protecting your teeth is to lower your blood sugar and to maintain a constant blood sugar level. The difficulty is that if you already have some gum disease, it can be another stress that leads to high blood sugar levels. This can be an overwhelming cycle, but luckily you can stop it.
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. It is present when your gums are puffy and red, and your gums can bleed when you brush your teeth or use other dental care. Gum disease, although little more than a painful inconvenience, can progress until you lose your teeth. This makes it even more difficult to maintain a healthy diet needed by diabetics.
The first step to taking care of your oral health is to monitor and control your blood sugar. You will also want to tell your dentist that you have diabetes. Your dentist will be able to help you notice the initial signs of gingivitis, which can be hard to distinguish. Visiting the dentist two times a year is a good idea.
Oral hygiene, like we all know, begins with brushing your teeth regularly, particularly after sweet snacks and desserts. You can also take care of your mouth by watching what you put in your mouth: chewing sugar-free gum can also help reduce your risk of gum disease. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of water, to maintain a healthy saliva flow in your mouth. Smoking is a bad habit that, among other diseases, will promote gum disease. Quit smoking immediately, because it has terrible effects on most diabetic complications.
Of course, brushing our teeth is not quite enough. Flossing daily should become part of your routine. Some dentists recommend using a water-pik to clean your teeth as well. Ask your dentist about what would be best for you. Certain mouthwashes are clinically proven to help prevent gingivitis: the simple 10 second act of gargling could save your teeth for the future!
Preventing gum disease is about taking care of yourself now to avoid pain in the future. Gum disease can lead to hyperglycemia, or even acidosis in severe cases. You want to avoid these symptoms, because they will make it even harder for you to control your blood sugar later. Remember: if you maintain a healthy diet, good oral hygiene, and helpful habits, you will save yourself time, money, and pain. You can have and keep the perfect smile!