Diabetes and Dental Health: 12 Ways to Protect Your Smile

Jan 10, 2018 9:27:53 PM

Newsroom Subpage Image

Did you know that there’s a very strong link between diabetes and gum disease? Diabetes affects many parts of the body, including the mouth and teeth. High blood sugar levels can create an environment in the mouth where bacteria and fungus can grow rampant and potentially affect the whole body if left untreated. It’s super important that everyone–and especially people with diabetes–keep up with regular brushing and, yes, flossing too, to help prevent mouth infections that can lead to more serious conditions. 

Many dentists have made diabetes diagnoses simply by observing inflammation in their patients’ mouths and recommending further testing. If you do have gum disease and diabetes, it’s likely that your diabetes will be more challenging to manage because of the inflammatory response happening in your mouth.  Once you treat your gum disease and start practicing good oral hygiene, getting your diabetes under control should become noticeably easier.

Here are 12 tips to help you protect your smile:

  1. Schedule regular visits. See your dentist at least every six months for cleaning and exams, and more often if you have problems with your gums or teeth. 
  2. Watch your levels. Keep your blood sugar in check to avoid infection and inflammation in your mouth.
  3. Get in the habit. Brush  and floss your teeth regularly (at least twice a day).
  4. Hydrate! Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Your whole body will be happier!
  5. Keep sugarless gum on hand. It can help stimulate saliva production when your mouth is feeling dry and help prevent tooth decay. 
  6. Check your meds. If you are on any medications that cause dry mouth, try a saliva substitute to help keep your mouth moist.
  7. Know the signs. Bleeding or swollen and painful gums and teeth that appear loose are all symptoms of gum disease.  
  8. Eat well. Aim for a healthy, whole foods diet and avoid white flour and sweets. Sugar and simple carbs not only raise blood sugar, but also increase the body’s inflammatory response.
  9. Beware of bad breath. Persistent bad breath is not normal and is usually a sign of an imbalance in bacteria.  
  10. Keep moving! Regular exercise supports the body’s inflammatory response.
  11. Quit cigarettes. Smokers have considerably higher incidence of gum and mouth disease, including cancer.
  12. Invest in a Waterpik. These handy little devices can get into the crevasses between your teeth that your toothbrush may not be able to reach.