A good dental care routine is important for everyone. However, it is especially essential to those living with diabetes — a disease that impedes the body’s ability to produce or use insulin. Diabetes causes higher levels of sugar in the body and the disease itself is sometimes referred to as “sugar”.
The sugar found in starches, foods and beverages sticks to your teeth, along with bacteria found in your mouth. The combination of these sugary starches and bacteria produces plaque — the sticky film that clings to your teeth.
Diabetes reduces your ability to fight bacteria. The more sugar and starch in one’s mouth means more plaque, which causes not only tooth decay but also gum disease. You can remove plaque by brushing and flossing regularly. This is extremely important. Plaque that is allowed to build up begins to harden under the gum line resulting in calculus or tartar. This leads to gingivitis, a painful gum disease.
When gingivitis goes untreated it can develop into an advanced gum disease called periodontitis — an infection. Diabetics have a harder time fighting infection and healing. Unfortunately, periodontitis also causes elevated blood sugar levels, which in turn makes it harder for diabetics to treat this condition. This is why preventing gum disease is so important for diabetics. If you have periodontitis you must be consistent in treating this disease.
How should diabetics care for their teeth?
Manage your diabetes. Eat properly. Take your medications as directed. Resist foods that cling to your teeth.
Adopt a good oral routine. Brush twice a day to remove food particles and bacteria. Floss every day to remove plaque and discourage tartar build up.
Schedule dental cleanings and always inform the dentist that you are a diabetic.
TIP: Awareness is essential. Always look for early signs of gum disease such as swelling, bleeding, mouth pain, or loose teeth.