Diabetes and Your Teeth

Caring for Your Teeth with Diabetes

We’re taught the importance of brushing and flossing from a young age. Although we no longer brush with bubble gum-flavored toothpaste and a vibrating cartoon toothbrush, it’s still just as important. In fact, it’s more important as your teeth age. Caring for diabetes and your teeth and gums at the same time needs even closer attention.

Diabetes and Your Teeth

High blood glucose promotes germs’ growth. When bacteria constantly attacks your teeth and gums, you can get red, sore, and swollen gums that bleed when you brush or floss.

If you have diabetes, you may have trouble keeping your blood sugar levels steady. High levels are not only bad for your health, but also your teeth. Teeth and gum problems occur more often when your levels stay high.

Smoking also makes it more likely for you to get a bad case of gum disease, especially if you have diabetes and are 45 or older.

If you have one or more of these problems, you may have tooth and gum damage from diabetes:

  • Red, sore, or swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Gums pulling away from your teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Your dentures no longer fit correctly

Caring for Your Diabetes and Your Teeth

To avoid permanent damage to your smile:

  • Keep your blood sugar as close to normal as possible.
  • Use dental floss at least once a day. Using a sawing motion, gently bring the floss between your teeth, scraping from bottom to top several times.
  • Brush your teeth after each meal or snack using a soft toothbrush.
  • If you wear false teeth, keep them clean.
  • Get your teeth cleaned and your gums checked by your dentist twice a year.

When you do to the dentist, it’s important to plan ahead. If you’re taking a diabetes medicine that can cause low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, talk with your dentist before the visit about the best way to take care of your blood sugar during long procedures. You may need to bring some diabetes medicine or food to the dentist’s office.

If your mouth is sore after dental work, you might not be able to eat or chew right away. Talk to your doctor about how best to adjust your normal routine while your mouth is healing.

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