Taking good care of your teeth is important for everyone, but did you know that gum disease can be a complication of diabetes? Blood travels everywhere inside the body, gums included! If you have too much sugar travelling in your blood, this can increase the sugar in your saliva. Too much sugar in your saliva can cause dry mouth & tooth decay which can lead to cavities and other infections.

 

The most common infection related to your mouth & teeth is gum disease, also known as periodontitis. If you live with diabetes, your risk of developing this is doubled. However, if you don’t live with diabetes and you develop this type of infection, you can become resistant to insulin and increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Look for early signs of gum disease. These signs include:

  • Red and/or swollen gums

  • Bleeding gums

  • Loose teeth

  • Bad breath that doesn’t go away

  • Receding gums or longer looking teeth

To help prevent your risk of gum disease and infection in the mouth, it is important to visit your dental team every 3 months. If you do not have a dentist, reach out to your diabetes team for support. Eating healthy balanced meals, quitting smoking, being regularly active and taking medications as prescribed by your doctor are also helpful ways to help decrease your risk of infection and disease in the mouth and teeth. If  left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. Overall, aiming to keep your blood sugar within target and aiming for an A1C of less than 7% can help prevent and/or delay your risk of any diabetes complication, including gum disease.

Here are other helpful tips to help keep a healthy smile:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day, for at least 2 minutes each time.

  • Use toothpaste with fluoride, a mineral that can help prevent cavities

  • Flossing should be part of your regular routine

  • Brush or scrape your tongue regularly

  • If you wear dentures, make sure to clean them everyday

Many things can help us achieve good health with diabetes. Healthy nutrition, regular physical activity, stress management & foot and eye care are often what we think of to achieve healthy blood sugar targets, but don’t forget about your smile! Remember, daily dental care is part of regular diabetes management.