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Dental Hygiene for People with Diabetes



Oct 1st, 2018

Closeup of young man flossing his teeth. Cleaning teeth with den

Dental Hygiene for People with Diabetes

Dental Hygiene for People with Diabetes: Main Image
Having diabetes makes it harder to keep your mouth healthy, but it also makes it more important to do so

People with diabetes have two to three times the risk of developing periodontal (gum) disease compared with people who don't have diabetes. This is serious business: According to the American Academy of Periodontology, periodontal disease is associated with an increased risk of certain health problems, including heart disease, complications of diabetes, certain types of cancer, respiratory disease, and osteoporosis.

Having diabetes makes it harder to keep your mouth healthy, but also makes it more important to do so. Along with sugars in foods, there may be extra sugar in your saliva, particularly if your diabetes isn't well controlled. This can increase the formation of plaque, which can lead to tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.

Diabetes’ experts recommend the following behaviors to help keep your mouth healthy:

  • Don’t smoke! Smoking makes all mouth problems worse and increases your risk of diabetes complications.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft toothbrush. Brush all the surfaces of your teeth gently using circular motions with the bristles angled toward your gums. Brush your tongue, too.
  • Replace your toothbrush at least every three months. A new brush removes more plaque.
  • Floss between your teeth at least once a day. Slide the floss up and down and then curve it around the base of each tooth under the gums.
  • If you wear dentures, keep them clean and take them out at night. Have them adjusted if they become loose or uncomfortable.
  • Check your mouth in the mirror regularly, and see your dentist as soon as possible if you notice any problems, including swollen or bleeding gums; a sore or ulcer that doesn't heal; dark spots or holes in your teeth; pain in your mouth, face, or jaw that doesn't go away; loose teeth; pain when chewing; a change in your sense of taste or a bad taste in your mouth; or bad breath that doesn't go away when you brush your teeth.
  • See your dentist twice a year for regular cleanings and checkups.

Current research shows that there’s interplay between inflammation in the body, inflammation in the mouth, poor diabetes control, and periodontal disease. This may be driven by diabetes, by gum disease, or by a combination of both. Also consider oxidation, which is a necessary process in the body, but can cause tissue damage if it gets out of control. Excessive oxidation appears to contribute to health problems in people with both type 2 diabetes and periodontal disease. The following smart lifestyle choices are aimed at dousing the flames of inflammation:

  • Go for plant power. Plant foods, especially brightly colored fruits and vegetables, contain many key nutrients. Go for foods that are red, orange, yellow, green, purple, and blue.
  • Eat Mediterranean. The Mediterranean dietary pattern, which has a high ratio of monounsaturated fat (think olive oil and nuts) to saturated fat (which comes mostly from meat and other animal foods), is linked with lower inflammation levels in the body. This diet also supplies abundant fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans and peas), and whole grains.
  • Move more. People who engage in more physical activity on a regular basis, be it walking, jogging, swimming, or biking, may have lower levels of inflammation in the body. Even better: Regular physical activity also helps keep blood sugar in check!

(J Clin Diagn Res 2016;10:BC12–6)

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