Your Teeth and Methamphetamine — Why You Shouldn’t Test It, Even Once

ada-methmouth-photo-courtesy-of-ada-orgThis goes without saying: Meth is bad for you.

Unfortunately, in recent years, it seems to be gaining popularity. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported 595,000 regular users in 2013, compared to 353,000 in 2010.

Meth is a drug that stimulates the central nervous system. Some people use it because it can work as a euphoriant or aphrodisiac. It’s also highly addictive, which can lead to higher dosages and long-term abuse. When that happens, the long-term effects are many, according to NIDA:

  • Addiction.
  • Psychosis, including paranoia, hallucinations and repetitive motor activity.
  • Changes in brain structure and function.
  • Deficits in thinking and motor skills.
  • Increased distractibility.
  • Memory loss.
  • Aggressive or violent behavior.
  • Mood disturbances.

Meth is also bad on teeth. In fact, it’s so bad that dentists have a word for it: meth mouth.

Meth Mouth: A Massive Problem

Meth mouth refers to severe tooth decay — teeth that are blackened, stained or rotting out. Teeth can be so worn down they break, fall out or have to be extracted. Meth causes other tooth problems, too, such as tooth fracture and acid erosion. Not only can this destroy a person’s smile, it can rob them of their ability to chew.

According to the American Dental Association, an examination of the mouths of 571 methamphetamine users showed:

  • 96% had cavities
  • 58% had untreated tooth decay
  • 31% had six or more missing teeth

So why is meth so toxic to the mouth?

Four Reasons Meth Really Messes Up the Mouth

Meth is extremely acidic. One of the most popular methods of meth manufacturing is to fuse red phosphorus with hydroiodic acid. Other ingredients can include lye and battery acid. These are corrosive on enamel, causing it to flake off. Usually, the front teeth are the first to decay.

The damage can work all the way down to the dental pulp. Dental pulp is just beneath the dentin of a tooth. Dentin is protected by enamel, and dental pulp by dentin. With damaged dental pulp, teeth stop receiving the moisture and nutrients they need. Damaged dental pulp can also lead to increased sensitivity.

Meth causes extremely dry mouth. The clinical name for extremely dry mouth is xerostomia. Xerostomia is bad, because saliva contains enzymes that kill bacteria. When the mouth is extremely dry, it doesn’t produce saliva to kill bacteria, and bacteria can proliferate, causing tooth decay.

Many users don’t maintain a healthy diet. While on meth, many people substitute sugary snacks and soda for normal healthy meals, according to the American Dental Association.

Meth can cause users to clench their teeth. Prolonged use of meth can cause psychosis. This can lead to bruxism, also known as teeth grinding. Bruxism can wear down teeth.

Black spots on teeth shouldn’t just indicate meth has led to a few cavities. They should reveal meth use has gone too far, and addiction has already taken hold.

Don’t let meth destroy your smile. If you or a loved one is addicted to meth, seek help now. You can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or find treatment online.

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More than Just a Piece of Thread: Choosing the Right Kind of Floss

flossing-505618918-web-900Flossing has come under fire recently. The U.S. Department of Health excluded a recommendation of floss in its latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans updates, claiming there’s not enough evidence flossing prevents gum disease or tooth decay.

We, however, believe you should keep flossing.

Flossing has been shown to reduce inflammation and bleeding of the gums, but only in short-term studies. The cost of a long-term study would take years and would cost a lot of money. Plus, there would be ethical ramifications from the non-floss group if flossing turned out to prevent long-term disease.

While flossing may not have a whole slew of evidence in its favor, it is low-risk and doesn’t cost a lot. So we’ll keep recommending it.

But choosing floss, believe it or not, can be complicated.

You might ask, How is it complicated? It’s just a piece of thread.

Floss is more than just a piece of thread. Consider these factors when determining which floss is right for you.

Three Types of Floss

Before you can determine specific preferences, you first have to decide between three types of floss:

  • Nylon floss
  • Monofilament floss
  • Dental tape

If you aren’t sure which one you use, it’s probably nylon floss. Nylon floss is the most common. But, in some circumstances, you might consider a different type.

Drop the nylon floss if:

  • Your flossing experience often involves the floss ripping or tearing. Nothing can be more annoying than having to unravel a new strand of floss from the spool because your strand snapped in two halfway through flossing. If this is a frequent occurrence, you may want to consider monofilament floss. It’s made of either rubber, plastic, or polytetrafluoroethylene — not fabric, like nylon — so it doesn’t shred as easy.
  • You have a lot of bridgework or wide gaps between your teeth. In these cases, you may want to consider dental tape. Dental tape is wider and flatter than nylon tape, so it can more effectively clean out spaces between teeth.

If these aren’t concerns for you, nylon floss is a little cheaper.

After choosing which type of floss, you still have another decision to make.

Wax On or Wax Off?

Should you buy waxed floss or unwaxed?

Well, both will do the trick.

And, when weighing pros against cons, some of the pros are subjective. For example, one camp claims waxed floss is easier to slide between crowded teeth, due to the wax coating on the nylon. The other camp, however, cites unwaxed floss as being easier to maneuver, due to its being thinner than waxed floss.

Some qualities to consider when purchasing floss include:

Waxed floss is more flavorful. Let’s face it: When flossing tastes good, you’re more likely to make it a part of your routine. The same goes for your children: If bubblegum flavored floss works as an incentive for them, then waxed floss is probably the way to go.

This could also be just as much incentive to go with unwaxed. If you’re pregnant, for example, the flavor could trigger nausea.

Unwaxed floss squeaks against clean teeth. Unwaxed floss will squeak against clean teeth, signaling to you plaque has been removed.

Most waxed floss is coated in Teflon. Teflon is a tough synthetic resin made by polymerizing polytetrafluoroethylene, also known as the stuff used on non-stick cookware. Some people claim Teflon can be toxic to the body and can cause health issues like certain types of cancer. The American Cancer Society, however, does not suspect it of causing cancer.

Once you’ve figured out what type of floss works best for you, you might have one more option to consider.

Flossing tools

Depending on your circumstances, you might need certain flossing tools.

Floss holder

For example, if you can’t wrap floss around your fingers, or if you have to floss for a parent or child, you may want to consider a Y- or U-shaped floss holder. Rather than thread a strand of floss between two fingers, you can use a pre-threaded device for farther reach or easier maneuverability.

Floss threader

Or you may want to consider a floss threader. A floss threader comes in handy if you have wide gaps between your teeth or if you have a child with braces.

The threader is a flexible piece of plastic with a loop at one end. For braces, link a strand of floss to the loop, then slide the pointed end of the threader through the bridgework of the braces until the linked strand of floss has access to the tooth.

Five Steps to Better Flossing

While it’s a good idea to find the right floss for you, what’s more valuable is flossing the right way. Flossing, like brushing, should take about two minutes and incorporate these five steps:

  1. Start with an 18-inch strand of floss. Wind most of it around one of your middle fingers and the rest around the same finger on your other hand.
  2. Tighten floss with about an inch of floss between your hands. Glide floss between teeth with a gentle sawing motion.
  3. Curve it into a C against your tooth.
  4. Hold the floss against each tooth, gently scraping the tooth’s side while moving the floss away from the gum. Repeat on all teeth. Don’t forget the back ones.
  5. Rinse to remove any loosened plaque and food particles.

Flossing may be under fire by some, but it is another tactic for removing plaque buildup on teeth. So, by using the right kind of floss, coupled with the right technique, you can expect results.

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Keeping Focus with Diabetic Eye Disease

Fall is time to turn back time

Living with diabetes requires a lot of medications, devices and checkups. It can be expensive. And while a lot can be done to manage it, it can do some wonky and unpredictable things. For example, a person with diabetes might experience dropping blood sugar levels, so she keeps eating, and then her blood sugar suddenly spikes.

With diabetes, your body doesn’t produce insulin (or at least enough insulin), so you have to manually regulate your insulin levels. This is harder than it sounds. Imagine, for example, if you stopped blinking involuntarily, and you had to regulate blinking. It would be incredibly difficult to get blinking down to an exact science. Calculating the right amount of insulin works the same way. As a result, blood sugar levels can sometimes get too low or too high.

Neither scenario is good on your eyes.

Blurring the Lines: Low Blood Sugar and the Eyes

Every cell in your body needs sugar to function properly. If blood sugar gets too low, your central nervous system begins to malfunction. This is called hypoglycemia.

A lot of symptoms come with hypoglycemia, but as it pertains to the eyes, your vision becomes blurred.

High blood sugar, however, can cause more damage and thus be more dangerous.

High Blood Sugar: How Failing Kidneys Swell the Eyes

Constant high blood sugar can actually damage parts of the eyes. That’s because when blood sugar is high, the eye swells and can change shape. To understand why, we first must look to the kidneys.

The kidneys play a big role in digestion. A simplified explanation of the digestion process is this: Food enters the kidney and gets separated into either protein or waste products. Protein travels through tiny blood vessels called capillaries. But for the waste products — each of the capillaries have tiny holes in them, through which the waste products are filtered. The protein is too big to fit through the holes, so they travel through the kidneys and convert into useful energy.

High blood sugar can disrupt this process. It causes the kidneys to filter too much blood, which is hard on the tiny holes. The tiny holes widen, so protein seeps out as a waste product. If this goes on too long, the kidneys become worse at filtering until they fail altogether.

So what does this have to do with the eyes?

When the kidneys don’t filter waste products the way they’re supposed to, the body has excess fluid in it. This excess fluid can accumulate around the eyes, especially at night, when gravity pulls the fluid that direction.

One symptom is puffy eyes.

But diabetes doesn’t stop at puffy eyes. The excess fluid causes the eye to swell. This leads to a ton of problems.

A Ton of Problems

Diabetic Retinopathy

The most serious condition is called diabetic retinopathy, which accounts for twelve percent of all new cases of blindness and is the leading cause of blindness for 20- to 64-year-olds.

Diabetic retinopathy deals with the lens inside your eyes called the retina, which is a light sensitive lining at the back of the eye. Blood vessels supply the retina. When the eye swells, these blood vessels can leak blood or other fluids into the retina, causing it to swell. The result is blurred or cloudy vision.

Unfortunately, extensive damage can often happen to the eye before you even notice any changes in your vision. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, let your optometrist know immediately.

Diabetic Macular Edema

If the seeping from diabetic retinopathy isn’t handled immediately, it can culminate into another problem. Over time, blood and fluid can seep into the macula, which is the part of the retina that focuses light. When this happens, the condition is called diabetic macular edema (DME). Not only does this blur vision, colors might appear washed out to you.

Cataracts and Glaucoma

Diabetes can also lead to cataracts and glaucoma.

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. The lens helps with focus. Adults with diabetes are two to five times more likely to develop cataracts than adults without, and they often develop cataracts at an earlier age, too.

Glaucoma damages a bundle of nerve fibers that connect the eye to the brain (aka the eye’s optic nerve). This could be due to the swelling, as increased swelling leads to elevated pressure in the eye. An adult with diabetes has two times the risk of glaucoma as an adult without.

Sharpening the Focus on Diabetic Eye Disease

Going state by state, the American Diabetes Association reveals diabetes is growing at an epidemic rate in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans have been diagnosed. As it pertains to Florida, diabetes affects about 2.4 million people.

Luckily, diabetic eye disease is considered rare, with fewer than 200,000 cases in the U.S. per year. However, according to the National Eye Institute, it has no warning signs and no cure. And diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults.

To prevent diabetic eye disease, control your blood sugar and blood pressure. Visit your optometrist if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Pain in your eyes
  • Black spots in your vision
  • Flashes of light

Likewise, schedule a dilated eye exam at least once a year.

The disease may not have an end in sight, but the earlier you can catch it, the better your vision for the future.

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Music to the Teeth: How to Play Your Best while Protecting Your Pearly Whites

Playing an instrument has plenty of benefits. It can stave off dementia. It can improve literacy in developing brains. And it fosters creativity.

Music may be the language of the soul, but some instruments might not be the best on your teeth.

Obviously, guitar and piano aren’t going to have a negative effect on your teeth (At least we hope you aren’t playing them with your teeth!). But some woodwind instruments (like clarinet, saxophone and harmonica) and brass instruments (like trumpet) could cause issues.

For example, in jazz, when some trumpeters retire, musicians refer to them with “He lost his lip.” Because so much of playing uses the lip, improper technique can hinder you from your full potential. It can also cause problems to your teeth. In some instances, players have ended up with gaps in their teeth, as well as teeth pointing outward.

Generally, these problems have a root cause.

A Technique that Can Be Dangerous to Your Teeth

When it comes to brass and woodwind instruments, you practice embouchure. Embouchure considers what you do with your mouth and tongue when you bring the mouthpiece to your face.

Improper embouchure can lead you to clamp down on the mouthpiece. This is problematic for three reasons:

  • It can cause your teeth to shift. For a similar reason to why braces straighten crooked teeth, clamping on the mouthpiece can shift straight teeth. In the case of braces, wiring applies pressure to the teeth, which straightens them over time. But with the mouthpiece, undue pressure is being placed on a few bottom teeth. Over time, those teeth can shift.
  • You produce more saliva. Producing saliva isn’t a bad thing. In fact, the only time people say bad things about saliva is when not enough is produced, as this can lead to bad breath. Saliva is produced when we chew. The harder we chew, the more saliva we produce. With an instrument, the “chewing” happens on a mouthpiece, which is a non-food item. We’ve written about how chewing on a non-food item is bad for teeth. In regard to saliva, saliva can be rough on your instrument, as it can build up and cause pads or reeds to stick.
  • The tone will be inconsistent. You might inadvertently hit more flat or sharp notes, or you won’t be able to keep the volume at a consistent level, or you won’t be able to hold out notes for as long as you’d like.

Are You Making this Mistake?

Why might you clamp down on your instrument’s mouthpiece? Well, it depends on which musician you ask.

Some will say the problem is you aren’t resting enough. As a result, your lips become weak, because they’re pursed to the mouthpiece for too long, and you clamp down.

Others say you’re exerting too much pressure to hit the notes. Musicians have a tendency to clamp down when they have to hit high notes.

Whatever the case, the issue hearkens back to an old saying: Less is more.

If you aren’t sure if you’re applying too much pressure, ask yourself the following questions. After you finish playing…

  • Do you have a ring on your lips from the mouthpiece?
  • Do your teeth ache?
  • Do your lips feel numb?
  • Are your lips swollen?

If any of these are true for you, the pressure might be too much. But a couple of solutions are available:

A Couple of Solutions to Push Off the Pressure

  • Perfect your embouchure. It’s all about how you use your facial muscles and shape your lips to the mouthpiece of the instrument.
  • Use an athletic mouth guard. You might benefit from using the bottom half of a mouth guard. You could also use a denture pad or dental wax. If you use a denture pad, you’ll need to change it regularly, as a lot of disgusting buildup can occur if you don’t.

It’s a good idea to take your oral health into account when you play. And good oral health can also keep your instrument in good shape for longer.

Three Ways Good Oral Health Can Keep Your Instrument in Good Shape

  • Brush your teeth before playing to avoid food particles in the reeds. If you practice multiple times a day, don’t over-brush. Rinsing your mouth out works just as effectively. You’ll especially want to brush/rinse if you’ve had something sugary. Sugar and saliva make a sticky combination that can cause a lot of damage to your instrument. For this reason, if you’re out playing a gig, you might want to avoid Grandpa’s “ol’ cough medicine” before the show, as drinks like beer and whisky contain malt sugar. Maybe stick with water with lemon instead.
  • Wait 30 minutes after eating before playing to neutralize your mouth’s pH levels. This in effect renders your saliva a lot less volatile on the reeds. You can also rinse your mouth with mouthwash to loosen particles on the teeth.
  • Don’t close your instrument case immediately after playing to allow remaining moisture to dry. This doesn’t have to do with your oral health per se. But depending on what instrument you’re playing, you might have a cleanup routine. For example, you’ll want to swab a saxophone, tap out the saliva from a harmonica and empty the spit valve on a trumpet. Even if you clean your instrument thoroughly afterward, a little moisture will remain. By putting your instrument in a case and shutting it, the moisture might cause damage to the reeds.

Playing music has a lot of benefits. And with the recent observation of National Saxophone Day, we don’t want to downplay those benefits. So keep playing and practice good oral health, for your and your instrument’s sakes!

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After Halloween, Turn a Brush with Death into Better Teeth Brushing

national-brush-day_21599988_webIt’s the day after Halloween. At this point, you might loathe the holiday for the sugar buzz it’s given your kids. Or maybe you wonder already if you can convince your kids to reuse their costumes next Halloween. You might even think of the day after Halloween as the day when candy is sold in grocery stores on the cheap (though, if you have kids, probably not).

For us, on the day after Halloween, we celebrate National Brush Day.

Make no mistake: National Brush Day was intentionally designed to follow a holiday that indulges in collecting and gorging on too much candy. According to the American Dental Association, National Brush Day is meant to reach parents then for two reasons:

  • to reinforce the importance of children’s oral health
  • to promote good tooth-brushing habits

We’d like to help you celebrate National Brush Day, too.

Why Your Children Need to Brush

Brushing and flossing can remove plaque, tartar and stains. These three culprits can cause problems of all sorts:

  • Cavities
  • Gum disease, like gingivitis or periodontitis
  • Weakened tooth enamel, making teeth more susceptible to chips or cracks

Conditions like these can wreak havoc on your children’s smiles. But the issues don’t stop there.

In fact, a saying worth remembering is:

You can’t spell overall without oral.

As in, oral health directly affects overall wellness.

Bad oral health doesn’t just put your children at risk for cavities, gum disease, and weakened tooth enamel; it can increase risks for serious conditions later down the road, like diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

The solution, of course, is brushing, but only when done so properly. Watch out for these improper ways your children might go about it:

Three Wrong Ways to Brush

Brushing with force. Brushing too hard might make your children feel like they’ve gotten their teeth extra clean, but their teeth won’t be thanking them. Using too much force can lead to tooth abrasion, little notches in the teeth near the gums.

Starting in the same place every time. Usually, when something is routine, the tendency is to start in the exact same place every single time. For brushing, this isn’t necessarily the best technique. It takes two minutes to brush. When your children start, the first tooth has their full attention. But by the time they’ve reached 1:45, they might be more concerned about whether their teacher will impose a pop quiz than with that particular tooth. For more evenly-cleaned teeth, have your children consider a new first tooth each time they brush.

Leaving your toothbrush on a bathroom sink or counter. This isn’t really a brushing technique, but it can defeat an otherwise perfect routine. The bathroom isn’t exactly the cleanest room in your house — to avoid getting too “potty” mouthed about it — so your children’s toothbrushes are susceptible to germs if they park them there. Should they keep their toothbrushes in the bathroom, at least have them put the toothbrushes in a holder where they can air-dry, and where the bristles won’t touch the germy sink or counter. Pro-tip: If you’re on vacation and your children are using a travel bag, make sure they don’t store their toothbrushes while they’re damp, as bacteria can grow on a moist toothbrush.

By this point, we’ve covered diseases that want to rob your children of their wellness, and wrong techniques that could prevent them from fighting those diseases.

If this has you scared stiff by the amount of candy your children brought home, remember this: National Brush Day is the day after Halloween, so the witching hour is officially behind. Don’t let your children dig their own graves. Have them follow these six brushing techniques to keep up their perfect smile:

Six Steps for Better Brushing

  1. Place your toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle to the gumline
  2. Use just enough pressure to feel bristles against your gums and between teeth. Don’t squish the bristles
  3. Brush all inner and outer tooth surfaces several times, using short, circular strokes. Be sure to brush along the gumline as well
  4. Brush chewing surfaces straight on. Clean the inside surfaces of front teeth by tilting the brush vertically and making up-and-down strokes with the front of the brush
  5. Clean only one or two teeth at a time
  6. Brush your tongue, as oral bacteria can remain in taste buds

National Brush Day might not be as well-known as Halloween, but you may want to add it to your calendar. After all, most us can probably agree Nov. 1 is too early for the Christmas Creep.

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Halloween Strobe Lights — Are They a Horror on the Eyes?

strobe-lights-a-1What’s a haunted house without strobe lights?

You know the scenario. You enter a room thick with smog from a fog machine. Your only source of light is a strobe. Everything looks like it’s in stop motion.

A bulky man ahead of you — you can’t make out any of his features, just that he’s coming toward you — he lifts a detoothed chainsaw above his head and lets it growl. Nothing to fear, you tell yourself. It’s detoothed.

But what if it isn’t?

Now you feel a scream forming in your chest.

The stop-motion feel created by a strobe light can really enhance the mood of a haunted house. But what kind of effect does it have on the eyes?

Not much, actually.

Although two issues may arise.

Two Ways Strobe Lights Can Take a Toll

Rumors that strobe lights cause astigmatism are nothing more than that: rumors. But strobe lights can cause eye fatigue or, if the strobe light is powerful enough, a corneal surface burn.

Eye fatigue

Strobe lights can cause eye fatigue, because they distort the way the brain perceives motion.

Think of it like a movie. A movie consists of frames, hundreds of thousands of them, moving in quick succession (24 frames per second). The mind can’t take in each frame individually, so it perceives all the frames together as being in motion.

A strobe light, however, flashes light at a much slower rate. So it tricks the mind into seeing the world as “individual frames.”

While this trickery isn’t necessarily bad for the eyes, it can cause you to focus more intensely, which can strain your eyes.

If you’re experiencing eye fatigue, your eyes might:

  • Ache
  • Feel dry
  • Have difficulty focusing
  • Be sensitive to light

But eye fatigue, other than being an annoyance, is rarely a serious condition. If you experience it, close your eyes for a few minutes. You might consider covering them with your palms.

Corneal Surface Burn

Corneal surface burn is more serious than eye fatigue. If the strobe light is more than 150 watts, the amount of lumens it puts out may be enough to damage your eye if you stare at it directly for a long period.

Corneal surface burn is like a sunburn on the surface of the eye. When light is too strong or lasts for too long, it heats the colored part of the eye. That part of the eye absorbs the light — that’s why you see a bright spot when you look away — and the eye radiates the heat, which can burn it.

Usually, corneal surface burn heals, but it might take a few days.

Of course, it’s highly unlikely you’ll stare at the strobe lights directly, much less long enough to cause damage, what with being shuffled through a haunted house.

Regardless, a basic rule of thumb is this:

If the strobe light hurts your eyes, don’t stare at it.

This Halloween, don’t let strobe lights scare you away from some haunted house fun. Just make sure your eyes feel comfortable. After all, some things you can’t unsee.

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Smiling with Diabetes: Still Keep Your Teeth Healthy

diabetes-and-oral-health_65770553_webLiving with diabetes requires a lot of medications, devices and checkups. It can be expensive. And while a lot can be done to manage it, it can do some wonky and unpredictable things. For example, a person with diabetes might experience dropping blood sugar levels, so she keeps eating, and then her blood sugar all of a sudden spikes.

Diabetes can also be hard on the teeth.

Gum Disease and Diabetes: A Dangerous Synergy

According to the American Diabetes Association, poor oral health can make it harder for a person with diabetes to control their blood sugar. And unpredictable blood sugar can make it harder to maintain good oral health. As a result, diabetes can wreak havoc on teeth. Some of the problems it can cause include:

  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Loss in Taste
  • Cavities
  • Gum disease, from gingivitis to periodontitis
  • Fungal infections like thrush, in which white patches form on the mouth or tongue that can become sores

If you have diabetes, you can take these steps to prevent serious gum disease.

Four Steps You Can Take to Prevent Serious Gum Disease

  1. Brush twice a day and floss daily. This is, of course, a routine everyone should have. But if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, neglecting to brush twice a day and floss daily can have more severe consequences.
  2. Consider a prescription mouthwash. Obviously, a dentist would have to prescribe this, but a prescription mouthwash contains chlorhexidine, a chemical compound that kills more bacteria than over-the-counter mouthwashes.
  3. Keep your dentist and hygienist in the loop about your diabetes. Schedule regular appointments with them. Make sure especially to keep them posted about what types of medication you’re taking.
  4. Keep blood sugar levels under control. Diabetes puts you at a higher risk of infection and can slow your body’s recovery processes. If you eat before a dentist visit — or at least ensure you have proper blood sugar levels — you have less chance of complications. The same goes for oral surgery. Blood sugar may be harder to control after surgery. According to the National Health Service, a healthy range is between 6 and 10 millimoles per liter (although 4 to 12 is acceptable).

Diabetes: Growing at an Epidemic Rate

Going state by state, the American Diabetes Association reveals diabetes is growing at an epidemic rate in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans have been diagnosed.

With diabetes, you never get a break. And the exact same routine one day can produce a totally different result the next. Diabetes is hard.

It’s no surprise, then, the theme for National Diabetes Month 2016 is Managing Diabetes — It’s Not Easy, But It’s Worth It.

This October, in honor of National Diabetes Month, don’t let diabetes turn your smile into a frown. You can still keep your teeth healthy. It’s worth it.

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