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Managing Your Diabetes Means Taking Special Care of Teeth and Gums

separator When your blood sugar is higher than normal, bacteria (germs) are more likely to grow. As a result of this growth, your gums can become red, sore and swollen. Eventually, if you don’t take care of this problem regularly, you are likely to develop severe periodontal disease, which often results in tooth loss. 

Young adults who have diabetes have twice the risk of gum disease as young adults without diabetes. And about a third of people with diabetes have severe periodontal disease, also called periodontitis. This is an infection in the gums and bone, which hold the teeth in place. When severe periodontitis is present, the gum can become unattached to the teeth. 

But the good thing is that there is a lot you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Controlling your blood sugar as well as possible is extremely important. That means testing your sugar levels as frequently as your doctor or other healthcare provider recommends, eating a food plan that’s good for diabetes and exercising regularly. It’s also important to quit smoking.

There’s also a lot you can do specifically for your dental health. Here’s a good plan:

Take a good look, and check frequently
Take a good look at your teeth and gums and see how they feel. Look for the following signs:

  • Red, sore, swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Gums pulling away from your teeth, making your teeth look long
  • Loose or sensitive teeth
  • Bad breath
  • A different feeling when you bight down
  • False teeth that don’t fit well

If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to go to your dentist. And speaking of the dentist:

  • Be sure to tell your dentist you have diabetes
  • Go to the dentist twice a year (or more if recommended) so that you can get treatment for problems early.
  • If your dentist tells you about a problem with your teeth or gums, don’t put off getting treatment for it.
  • Ask your dentist about the best methods for brushing and flossing

What can you do to keep your teeth and gums healthy?

  • Use dental floss on your teeth at least once a day. This can help keep the bacteria level in your teeth and gums down.
  • Brush your teeth after every meal and snack.
  • Keep false teeth clean, if you have them.

But don’t forget, one of the best overall things you can do for your teeth and gums is to keep your blood sugar under control.

American Diabetes Association; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders,,
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