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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