If you’re diabetic you know you have to keep a close eye on your health. Regular blood sugar checks, medication, and doctor’s visits are all a part of daily life. Your dental health is no exception. Due to higher than normal blood sugar levels, diabetics are susceptible to tooth decay and oral infections. However, poor dental health is not a foregone conclusion if you happen to be diabetic. There are some important steps you can take to keep your teeth in great shape and your mouth free of infections.
Think of your teeth as an automobile. Without regular maintenance or fuel, any car will quickly break down and become useless. It’s the same for your teeth. They need daily attention and regular professional service to stay in shape. This is even more critical for diabetics.
Brush and floss twice daily, use an antiseptic mouthwash, and visit your dentist at least every six months or more often if they recommend. Also, if you smoke – stop. Smoking is not only extremely bad for your general health, but it can also cause and accelerate gum disease that potentially leads to tooth loss.
Let Your Health Care Providers Know
It is very important that your dentist have your full health history, including your diabetic status. Let them know your type of diabetes, level of blood sugar control, and which medications or type of insulin you use. Be sure that your dentist is also aware of your diabetes doctor’s name and contact information. Finally, always make your dentist aware of any pain, bleeding, or other problems with your mouth.
You should also speak with your diabetes doctor about your oral health. Let him or her know about any problems and inform them before you undergo dental surgery or a major procedure. They may choose to place you on antibiotics to prevent infection. You should also anticipate a longer healing time from any dental procedure due to your diabetes.
Drink Plenty of Water
Diabetics, particularly those with uncontrolled blood sugar levels, often experience dry mouth, called xerostomia. Saliva is important as it washes away sugars and the bacteria that thrive on them. If you notice a dry mouth, let your diabetes doctor and dentist know right away.
Drinking water can also help with xerostomia. Not only is staying hydrated important for blood sugar control, but adequate saliva helps to protect your teeth’s enamel.
Try to Keep Blood Sugars under Control
Controlled blood sugars are one of the main keys to both overall and dental health for diabetics. When your blood sugars are being maintained at good levels you’ll be less likely to suffer from dental infections and gum disease, and you’ll also experience fast healing after oral surgery or other dental work.
Keeping your blood sugars at goal involves a partnership between you and your diabetes doctor. Take medication as directed, exercise as recommended, eat right, and keep your medical and dental appointments. In concert with your diabetes specialist and dentist, you can keep your teeth and gums in top shape.