Oral Health and Diabetes – Taking Care of Your Mouth

Diabetes DentalDiabetes has all sorts of associated conditions and it seems the list gets longer every day. Heart and kidney disease, trouble with your feet, trouble with your eyes, it is a difficult part of living with diabetes, the fact that it can affect so much of your body. The gums, teeth and mouth in general are no exception. Periodontitis, an acute inflammation of the gums, is a severe disease. In its more advanced stages, it can lead to infections and the gums peeling away from the teeth. The infection can even affect the bones in which the teeth are embedded, if nothing is done about it.

There is a link between diabetes and periodontitis and other kinds of gum disease. Research based on a group of diabetic Americans, has shown that an abnormally high number of them have gum disease and other oral health problems. Not only that, but they also have periodontitis and gingivitis (a less severe gum disease) which can also worsen diabetes. It is thought that the relationship works both ways because people with diabetes cannot fight bacterial infection as effectively and diabetics with gum disease will have a harder time maintaining their blood glucose at the proper levels.

The best thing you can do is to maintain a rigid discipline on both fronts. Keep your blood glucose levels in check and brush your teeth regularly. Learning the proper brushing technique and using soft bristles is essential. It also has been demonstrated that brushing before meals is more effective. More important than brushing though is flossing and visiting your dentist regularly to make sure everything is alright. Flossing will get rid of all the bits and pieces of food left between your teeth and gums where bacteria like to thrive and a qualified oral health professional will help you find any potential problems before they can alter your life. If you use dentures, be sure to keep them clean and to fit them properly to avoid irritation. Also try to avoid food that can irritate the mouth. Apart from this, one of the worst things you can do for your oral health is smoking so consider quitting (not to mention how it raises the risk of heart disease in addition to the diabetes risk factor). Also be on the lookout for other conditions like dry mouth (and all of the painful results from this, such as ulcers and cracked skin) as well as fungal infections (also known as thrush).

No one can help you more than your dentist or periodontist. Be sure to inform him of your condition and of how it has been evolving. Any dentist should be prepared to deal with complications associated with diabetes. Also make sure to schedule visits to your dentist and schedule any surgical procedures or dental work that may be needed to improve your blood glucose levels. As a diabetic, the risk for gum disease is higher than normal, but proper care and prevention will go a long way towards avoiding anything bad from happening. It is important to be on the lookout for any symptoms and to act accordingly. Drinking plenty of water and keeping blood glucose levels in check will also help with the dry mouth.

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