toothbrush over sink
Diabetes
Oral Health

Diabetics: Protect Yourself from Teeth and Gum Problems

Diabetes brings with it a host of health problems, but it’s often overlooked that one of those issues can cibcerb teeth and gums. According to the SeniorHealth division of the National Institutes of Health, diabetics can be more liable to tooth and gum problems if their blood glucose stays higher. Why? Because glucose is present in saliva, and high glucose levels in saliva help bacteria grow. These harmful bacteria combine with food to form a sticky film called plaque on your teeth. (Plaque also comes from eating foods high in starch or sugar. Some types of plaque cause tooth decay, cavities, gum disease and bad breath.

The SeniorHealth experts say that the most common diabetes-related mouth problems are:

gingivitis (unhealthy or inflamed gums)

periodontitis (an infection of the gums)

thrush [editor’s note: this is a yeast infection caused by the candida fungus]

dry mouth

oral burning (a burning sensation inside the mouth).

What can you do? Here, some suggestions from the experts:

Keep your blood glucose as close to normal as possible.

Use dental floss at least once a day. Flossing helps prevent the buildup of plaque on your teeth. Plaque can harden and grow under your gums and cause problems. Using a sawing motion, gently bring the floss between the teeth, scraping from bottom to top several times.

Brush your teeth after each meal and snack. Use a soft toothbrush. Turn the bristles against the gum line and brush gently. Use small, circular motions. Brush the front, back, and top of each tooth.

If you wear false teeth, keep them clean.

Call your dentist right away if you have problems with your teeth and gums.

Reprinted from http://nihseniorhealth.gov/. For more information on diabetes and diabetes-related complications, click here

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