If you’re living with diabetes, you’re used to paying special attention to the health and well-being of your body. But did you know you also need to take good care of your teeth.
As a diabetes patient, you’re twice as likely as a person without diabetes to develop gum disease (periodontal disease). And if you do, the infection will most likely be more severe. In fact, gum disease is often considered the sixth complication of diabetes.
As you already know, diabetes causes a reduction in saliva, which leads to dry mouth. Dry mouth, in turn, can lead to decay. You’re also more susceptible to extensive receding gum lines – a condition that leads to tooth loss.
You need to be especially concerned about gum disease because research has shown that it can make it more difficult for you to control your blood sugar, and can even lead to an increase in your blood sugar levels. In fact, one study showed the periodontal treatment led to a reduction in the need for insulin.
To prevent gum disease, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics, medicated mouth rinses and more frequent cleanings. Here are some other guidelines for keeping your gums and mouth healthy.
- Make seeing your dentist regularly a priority.
- Schedule your appointments for the morning hours, when your blood glucose levels are most likely to be under control.
- Eat and take your medications as usual before your appointment.
- If your blood sugar is not under control, talk to your dentist and doctor about receiving elective dental care.
- Keep your dentist informed about your current health status.
- Since proper daily home care is vital to prevent gum disease, make sure you brush and floss regularly.
- To keep teeth and gums strong, you should be aware of your blood sugar levels in addition to checking triglycerides and cholesterol levels regularly. These may have a direct correlation on your chances of developing periodontal disease.
If you follow these guidelines, chances are your teeth can coexist peacefully with your diabetes. If at any time you suspect you have a problem, see your dentist immediately. Your health depends on it.