If you have diabetes, the number one thing you can do for your oral health is keep your blood glucose levels as normal as possible. Here’s why: When your blood glucose levels are poorly controlled, you’re more likely to develop gum disease and lose teeth than people who don't have diabetes. In turn, gum disease could cause your blood sugar to rise, making your diabetes harder to control. So it’s imperative that you keep your teeth and gums clean by brushing twice a day and flossing daily. And if you wear dentures, remove and clean them every day.
Keeping up with twice yearly dental visits is also crucial for patients with diabetes. A professional cleaning is the only way to remove the plaque and tartar that lead to gum disease. Also be sure to discuss your diabetes status and current medications with your dentist at each dental visit.
Warning Signs: Gum Disease
Because diabetes makes you more prone to developing gum disease, it’s important to be able to identify the warning signs. These are the most common:
- Bleeding gums when you brush or floss
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Receding gums
- Pus between the teeth and gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose permanent teeth
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Changes in the fit of partial dentures or a dental bridge
Also keep an eye on other symptoms that might develop, including white patches on your tongue, which could indicate oral thrush, an infection caused by fungus that grows in the mouth, and soreness and ulcers in the mouth, which could be a sign of dry mouth. If you notice any of these symptoms, see your dentist.